Letter to President Macron from Mr. Hammouri

To The French Republic president Emmanuel Macron

From Prison Cell No. 4 of Ofer prison – July 3, 2022

Mr. President, 

I write you this letter in the run-up to July 14, this date of utmost significant to the world, and which brought forth the values of humanity and democracy that underpin the French moto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. This slogan captured the will of hundreds of thousands of French citizens in their struggle to eradicate the injustice, oppression and hunger that blighted their lives. The storming of the Bastille on July 14, and the liberation of those prisoners unjustly held by the Ancien Régime, has shaped my conviction that the right to self-determination will always be claimed and enjoyed by the people themselves. 

Today I am in a Bastille called “Ofer” in the occupied Palestinian Territory, being held for a third time under ‘administrative detention’. There have been no charges issued against me, and me and my fellow prisoners are subject to military courts similar to those that sentenced General De Gaulle to execution and citizenship revocation.  

Mr. President did you know that we, Palestinian political prisoners, are incarcerated in prisons established and operated by an occupying state considered to be practicing Apartheid by many human rights organizations and the United Nations? Do you know that one reason for this designation is the unjust use of ‘administrative detention’ to imprison us without even the pretence of a trial? So far is this law from the standards of humanity that even Zionist leader Menachem Begin described it as “tyrannical, and unethical” in a Knesset debate in 1951. 

Mr. President, what is the reason behind your double standard in the treatment of people living under oppression? I have seen you on several occasions defending the people of Ukraine and speaking up for the pain and torture they are facing, while you seem to have forgotten, or are deliberately ignoring, that we Palestinians have been facing injustices and occupation for 78 years now.

This occupying, colonial state has been continuously ethnically cleansing the Palestinian people from their land, yet you treat it with impunity and, by your actions, show that you consider it above the law. 

Today, I truly believe, that I am a fourth or fifth class citizen of the French state. This is evident due to the state’s consistent negligence and lack of action to end my continued detention, which is taking place without any charges or trial. 

Your excellency should be aware that the values of freedom, justice and equality are indivisible and should be enjoyed by all peoples, along with their inalienable human rights. I hope that you will find the courage to act with a clear conscience and pressure the occupying state to ensure my immediate release.

Salah Hammouri