On the morning of 25 June, Palestinian security officers stormed the house in which Palestinian activist, Nizar Banat, from Al-Khalil (Hebron), was staying in the occupied West Bank. According to his family, Banat was severely beaten with metal batons during his arrest, and subsequently succumbed to his injuries while still in the custody of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Banat was a candidate in the long delayed and postponed elections for the Palestine Legislative Council, and one of the fiercest and most vocal critics of the PA. He was arrested multiple times, released and yet never charged.
Sadly, silencing political opposition is not a new development in the Palestinian political scene. It is a part of a series of oppressive practices that the PA has been enacting since its inception with the signing of the Oslo Accords. The PA is now acting as a subcontractor for Israel and has become a tool in the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people deserve liberation and democratic, meritocratic representation.
The struggle for freedom and justice in Palestine is one of liberation from settler colonialism, tyranny and domestic corruption. It is a struggle against political persecution, subjugation, torture and assassinations, regardless of whether they are carried out by Israel, the PA, other alleged Palestinian leaderships or any other apparatus of Israeli settler colonialism.
Dismantling Israeli settler colonial power structures requires the dismantling of corrupt and oppressive systems which sustain the unjust status quo that perpetuates Israeli domination over the Palestinians. For those reasons, we demand:
1. The establishment of an independent and transparent investigation into the assassination of Nizar Banat, led by a respected external independent body, to ensure all parties responsible are held to account;
2. The ending of PA repression of political dissent, the targeting of protesters, and guarantees of the safety of all Palestinians, especially those who are currently protesting this brutal crime in Ramallah, Al-Khalil and other parts of Palestine;
3. The public condemnation of this crime by the Palestinian embassy in Australia and for it to demand full accountability of those responsible. The silence of the Palestinian embassy and its representatives indicates complicity;
4. For the Australian government to: condemn the assassination; call for an independent and transparent investigation; support and assist a peaceful transition of power in Palestine from the current non-representative leadership to a newly and democratically elected leadership that represents all Palestinians; end its complicity in the oppression of the Palestinian people by ending its ties with Israeli apartheid until all Palestinians are free, from the river to the sea.
We honour and salute Banat for his courage and steadfastness in his fight against the corrupt domestic forces that seek to neutralise the legitimate Palestinian resistance against occupation. Liberation comes in whole, not in parts. Banat lived this creed and paid the ultimate price for his conviction and tireless political work. We pledge to continue to carry Banat’s vision forward on the path to liberation.
We send our deepest condolences to his family, wife and children, and the entire Palestinian people.