Statement in response to Palestinian NGOs being designated terrorist organisation

Published: 28 Oct 2021

Authored by: PCSR


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The designation of Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organisations must be rescinded                         28th October 2021

This statement reflects PCSR’s stated intention to identify and challenge adverse discrimination at all levels within our profession and in the wider world, and to generate action, launch campaigns, and seek to influence political processes, and its commitment to raise awareness and be actively involved in stopping the collusion with past and ongoing racist settler colonialism and apartheid.

The Israeli Ministry of Defence has designated six leading Palestinian civil society associations as “terrorist organisations”. The groups are Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees (see Appendix 1).

Under Israeli law this attribution has extreme and sinister consequences for the staff, funders and partners of these groups, and represents a clear attempt to crush Palestinian civil society and the international solidarity movement working for equal rights in Palestine/Israel.

The mental health community has particular reasons to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinian people. Apartheid societies and settler colonial projects require ideologies and political structures that are incompatible with the psychological well-being of either the colonised or the coloniser.

For many years, Palestinian NGOs (including those currently under attack) have documented the specific policies and behaviours that impact with particular severity on mental health. These include the siege of Gaza and the de-development of the Palestinian economy; shoot-to-kill policies and the deliberate maiming of civilians; imprisonment without trial and the use of torture; the night-time arrests, abusive interrogation and incarceration of children; the kidnapping of the bodies of Palestinians killed by the armed forces; unrestrained settler violence; the demolition of Palestinian homes and villages, the appropriation of their lands and the periodic aggressive military assaults on the besieged and vulnerable civilian population of Gaza.

In response to the call by Palestinian organisations for the international community to support the work of human rights defenders in Palestine, PCSR adds its voice to the worldwide chorus of protest led by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (See Appendix 2). As their joint communique suggests, it is ‘the decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses’ that has emboldened the Israeli Government ‘to act in this brazen manner’.

These Palestinian NGOs do everything in their power to protect their communities from abuse, and to document such abuse whenever and wherever it occurs so that the perpetrators may be held accountable. We therefore urge the British Government and UK civil society to defend and foster these essential efforts in every way possible.

PCSR will circulate this statement to the six NGOs affected by this decision, and to the Palestine Union of Social Workers and Psychologists, the Palestine Global Mental Health Networks and its sibling organisations in the UK, USA, Ireland, France and South Africa, to the Israeli groups Psychoactive and elsewhere; it will encourage individual members of PCSR to likewise share within their professional circles.


Appendix 1: The six organisations targeted by the Israeli Minister of Defence:

· Defense for Children International-Palestine (statement): Advocates for Palestinian children subject to a military court system with a 99.7% conviction rate & documents extrajudicial killings

· Al Haq: Leading human rights documentation and advocacy organization exposing Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies since 1979

· Addameer: Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association: Supporting political prisoners, under occupation where about 1 in 5 people have been incarcerated

· Union of Agricultural Work Committees: supports farmers resisting land theft and other impacts of Israel’s settler colonialism on agriculture & livelihoods

· Bisan Center for Research and Development: Advocating for civil rights, human rights, and socio-economic rights.

· Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees: a feminist, progressive grassroots Palestinian organization.


Appendix 2: Selected Statements by other organisations