Israel has begun deporting pro-Palestinian activists who were taken into custody after flying into Israel for protests.
The detained activists were taken to Ben Gurion airport on Sunday to board a flight to Europe. Upon landing in Israel, they had been immediately detained for questioning and put on return flights.
Israel also convinced airlines to prevent another 200 from boarding Israel-bound planes from Europe, by tracking the activists on social media sites and compiling a blacklist of more than 300 names.
38 activists were deported on Sunday evening, leaving 82 still in Israeli custody.
Report & Analysis: Israel begins sending back detained activists [CNN, 10 Jul 2011]
Lawyer Anan Odeh described the conditions under which the activists were held as “shocking,” saying they were deprived of food and drink for several hours.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israel prime minister, said that Israel would “continue to frustrate provocations and attempts to break through [its] borders.” However, activists claim that banning foreigners from entering the West Bank is illegal.
Report & Analysis: Israel deports dozens of activists [Telegraph, 10 Jul 2011]
Organisers of the campaign accused Israel of overreacting to what they said is a peaceful mission to draw attention to life under Israeli occupation and travel restrictions. Israel controls all access to the West Bank.
The protest, dubbed the “flytilla,” came in the wake of the failed attempt to organise a flotilla of vessels to challenge Israel’s maritime blockade on Gaza.
The activists who were able to make it through passport control at Ben-Gurion convened in Bethlehem on Sunday for the start of a week-long protest. They said they aimed to draw attention to what they claim are prejudicial Israeli border policies that force international visitors to Palestinian areas to lie about their destinations.
Activists gathered at a section of the West Bank security barrier, which separates the Palestinian Authority-controlled city from Jerusalem, shouting for the freedom of Palestine.
Report: Thirty-eight “Flightilla” activists deported to Europe [Jerusalem Post, 11 Jul 2011]
Israel has been jittery about the arrival of foreign activists since a deadly naval raid on an international flotilla that tried to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza last year. There has also been a spate of anti-Israel protests, including deadly clashes along the frontiers with Lebanon and Syria and the attempted flotilla last week. Many of these protests have been organised on Facebook and other websites, leading defense officials to follow organiser activities online.
The activists have placed Israel in an awkward position. Although authorities are determined to keep out hostile agitators, critics have said the government's reaction has only drawn attention to the activists' attempt to gain publicity.
Report & Analysis: Israel blocks airbone protest, questions dozens [AP, 9 Jul 2011]
In Singapore, a British author was released from prison and deported after serving time over his book on Singapore’s death penalty. He was taken to court last year on the grounds that the book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock, had insulted the judiciary.
The book alleged that the Singapore courts bowed to foreign pressure, favoured the rich and privileged and were used by the government to muzzle political dissent.
It contains interviews with human rights activists, lawyers and former police officers, as well as a profile of Darshan Singh, the former chief executioner at Singapore’s Changi Prison. The book claims that Mr Singh executed around 1,000 people between 1959 and 2006.
Report & Analysis: S’pore deports British author [Straits Times, 10 Jul 2011]
Shadrake spent five weeks in prison for contempt after losing his appeal against a six-week sentence, the toughest ever imposed in Singapore for contempt of court. He was ordered to serve an extra two weeks as he could not pay the fine that accompanied his jail term, but was released early on account of good behaviour.
UK Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne welcomed British author Alan Shadrake's release from jail in Singapore, saying it is "regrettable that Mr Shadrake served time in jail for expressing his personal views on the Singaporean legal system," and calling on Singapore to "recognise the right to the freedom of expression."
Press Release: Foreign Office Minister welcomes release of British author from jail in Singapore [FCO, 9 Jul 2011]
According to Human Rights Watch, Shadrake’s conviction was “a major setback for free expression in Singapore.”
Report & Analysis: Author Alan Shadrake released from Singapore jail [BBC, 9 Jul 2011]
Lance Lattig, a researcher on South-east Asia from human rights group Amnesty International, said Singapore should have dropped all charges against Shadrake.
“They shouldn’t have prosecuted him in the first place,” he said.
Report & Analysis: British author deported by Singapore [AFP, 10 Jul 2011]