On July 29, 2015, the trial of Palestinian activist Amer Jubran in Jordan reached its predictable conclusion: 10 years with hard labor for phony “terrorism” offenses, based at least in part on laws manufactured after his arrest.
Last year I wrote an article about the circumstances of Amer’s arrest and detention. At that time he was being held without charges, after being seized from his home in the middle of the night and held incommunicado at an undisclosed location for over 2 months.
In August of 2014, he was finally given a list of charges against him. These included the charge of threatening to “harm relations with a foreign government,” part of a new set of “anti-terrorism” laws enacted in Jordan in June of 2014 (a month after Amer’s arrest in May). The law is a codification of Jordan’s existing practice of arresting dissidents who call attention to the regime’s traitorous collaboration with the main political enemies of its own people: Israel and the United States. A pertinent example would be Mwaffaq Mahadin, tried in 2010 for “endangering relations with a foreign state” for speaking on Al-Jazeera about Jordan’s security cooperation with the US. Under the new legislation, this “crime” became a “terrorism” offense, punishable before the State Security Court.
In a statement about his trial and sentencing recorded from prison (recordinghere, transcript here), Amer recounts a moment in his interrogation by the GID (General Intelligence Directorate, Jordan’s infamous secret police) which leaves no doubt about the real decision-makers behind his arrest and imprisonment:
During the interrogation period, I was told by the GID that any decision made about me is involving (quote) ‘our American and Israeli friends’ (end-quote). All started when I refused to be a sell-out and work against the Lebanese resistance. I was told then that I will be sent behind the sun for such a refusal. And frankly it is very easy for me to disappear behind the sun rather than to be well outside, but a sell-out and traitor.
The involvement of the US in Amer’s detention and trial comes as no surprise. As I recounted in my earlier article, the US had already detained Amer while he was living in the United States for his political activism on behalf of Palestine and against the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. While living here as a green-card holder, he committed the inexcusable crime of refusing to be intimidated by the wave of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim repression that immediately followed September 11. In 2002, he stood on a stage in Washington DC, before an anti-war gathering of more than 75,000 people, and spoke against US support for Israel and against the invasion of Iraq.
Amer has clarified in conversation that his refusal “to be a sell-out and work against the Lebanese resistance” was a refusal to act as an infiltrator and informant for the GID. He was thus charged with supporting Hezbollah.
In a similar trial that reached its conclusion a day earlier, another 12 people were sentenced for periods of up to 15 years for supporting Hamas. As one commentator asked in the Jordan Times: “[I]n whose interest is it to try those who support the Palestinian Hamas movement?”
“Anti-terrorism” laws that criminalize support for armed movements of national liberation in Palestine and national self-defense in Lebanon have nothing to do with protecting Jordan or its people. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah has ever threatened the security of Jordan. Such laws are designed purely to protect the interests of Israel and the US in their ongoing violations of the national sovereignty of Arab lands.
Likewise, Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate and its State Security Court function as arms of foreign powers. They are not protecting the security of Jordanians, but rather the security of Jordan’s most violent and militarily aggressive neighbor (Israel), and US soldiers who use Jordan as a base for attacking other Arab countries. Most recently, the US has been using Jordan as a base for training military forces involved in the destabilization of Syria–a conflict that threatens to engulf the entire region in violence.
To do their work effectively, these agencies must necessarily suppress the human and political rights of Jordanians. Journalists, activists, professors, religious leaders and all of Jordan’s ordinary citizens live under the constant threat of Jordan’s secret police and its judicial security apparatus. Trials before the State Security Court lack even the outward semblance of judicial independence, with judges recruited from the military and the GID itself.
In the campaign to free Amer Jubran, we are calling for letters on Amer’s behalf to be directed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al Hussein, a Jordanian. We have no illusions about the UN or its High-Commissioner for Human Rights. The value of such a campaign is to show that people around the world are watching, and to strip away the sham of “human rights” and “democracy” in Jordan.
Jordan is the most valuable regional asset for both Israel and the US. Its GID is one of the most powerful intelligence agencies in the world, active throughout the region, and does much of the dirty work of suppressing the rights of people in the Arab world. It’s time to expose its crimes, and disrupt the political arrangement behind them.