INTERNATIONAL DELEGATION IN ISRAEL CONDEMNS RENEWAL OF VANUNU'S RESTRICTIONS AS KNESSET COMMITTEE MEETS
April 19, 2005
JERUSALEM-- International and Israeli activists gathered to vigil outside the Knesset today in support of nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. A delegation later attended the Knesset Committee on Constitution, Law and Judiciary, meeting to discuss the restrictions on Vanunu's speech, association, and liberty imposed since he completed an 18-year prison sentence last year. The supporters arrived to learn that the restrictions were renewed for another year, and Minister of Interior, Opir Paz-Pines, declared that he would not consider issuing a passport to Vanunu for another 12 months, keeping Vanunu from leaving Israel until at least April 2006.
Vanunu's supporters who testified at the Knesset hearing were Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire, ex-European Parliament member, Jakob von Uexkull, and international human rights lawyer, Michael Ellman. [Text of von Uexkull and Ellman testimony here] Also attending were Vanunu's adoptive American parents Nick and Mary Eoloff, Israeli member of the International Campaign to Free Vanunu, Rayna Moss, and Israeli retired nuclear physicist Calman Altman. They were accompanied by Knesset Member, Issam Makhoul, who requested this unique hearing.
At the hearing, the speakers addressed the human rights issues relating to the restrictions, and how they violate international law; the injustice of Vanunu's restrictions being renewed before the Knesset hearing took place; and the absurdity of considering Vanunu a threat to state security.
Because of time constraints the Committee Chairman, Michael Eitan, agreed that the Committee would reconvene on the matter of Vanunu's restrictions in the near future.
Following the hearing, a press conference was held where Maguire, von Uexkull and Ellman summarized their testimony. In addition, Rayna Moss, Issam Makhoul, Nick Eoloff and Calman Altman addressed the press. Mordechai Vanunu then severely criticized the restrictions placed on him for another year, calling them a violation of his human rights and freedom of speech. He repeated his call for the abolition of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and world.
Then within a ring of press cameras, von Uexkull presented Vanunu with the Right Livelihood certificate for his courageous stance against nuclear weapons on behalf of the world, which had been awarded to him 18 years before but he had not been able to receive because of his long imprisonment.
The day ended with a candlelight vigil in West Jerusalem near the residence of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Holding candles and banners reading "He Told the Truth, Let Vanunu Go" in Hebrew, Arabic and English, Israelis and the international delegation of Vanunu supporters leafletted and talked with passersby.
The international delegation includes over 40 people from the U.K., U.S., Japan, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and Ireland, who have come to Israel to call on the government to give Mordechai Vanunu his full freedom. Their activities continue until April 22, and include vigils at the Ministries of Justice and Defense, and an anti-nuclear demonstration at Dimona on April 21, the one year anniversary of Vanunu's release from Ashkelon Prison.