World Population Day was established by the United Nations Development Programme in 1989 with a view to “focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues”. The theme for World Population Day this year is: “Unleashing the power of gender equality: Uplifting the voices of women and girls to unlock our world’s infinite possibilities”. On this occasion, Al-Haq commemorates the two-year anniversary of Al-Haq’s former employee Suha Jarrar's passing on 11 July 2021 and pays tribute to Suha, Yafa and Khalida Jarrar (Suha's sister and mother), in light of their efforts to bring the voices of Palestinian women and girls into the international arena, as well as to all women who draw inspiration from their strength.
At Al-Haq, Suha campaigned vigorously for women’s and minority rights. Palestinian women face a double jeopardy: “the everyday abuse of their fundamental rights inherent in Israel’s 40-year occupation” added to the “denial of basic rights and protection within their own society”. Palestinian pregnant women are still forced to give birth at Israeli military checkpoints, they are denied family unification, their homes are demolished, they are evicted from their homes by settlers, they are forcibly transferred from their lands, they are shot at on public transport, they are teargassed and attacked as they pray, and they are denied their right of return as refugees and denied their right to self-determination.
In documenting Israel’s human rights violations in the Jordan Valley, Suha applied a gendered lens, highlighting the particular indignities suffered by Palestinian women, as Israel forcibly transfers the Palestinian population from their homes and lands. She further exposed the illegal targeting, harassment and persecution of her mother, Khalida Jarrar a renowned feminist and human rights defender imprisoned for a mere refusal to sign an expulsion order to force her transfer- an act of transfer in itself constituting a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Inspired by her mother’s fight for Palestinian political prisoners, Suha spearheaded Al-Haq’s advocacy work on prisoners’ rights, women’s rights, and other marginalized groups' rights. Invited to present on environmental justice in Palestine at the University of Georgia in the US, Suha stated that “Palestinian women detainees represent all facets of the Palestinian society” from “parliamentarians to journalists and social workers”, and highlighted that “more than 10,000 Palestinian women were jailed by the Israeli authorities for their involvement in Palestinian resistance”. Importantly, she cautioned that feminist rights are part and parcel of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and that the priority remained the liberation from Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime.
The liberation Suha referred to is more necessary than ever two years after Suha’s tragic death. The escalating number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces, including some 153 killed as of 4 July 2023, the expansion of the settlements, the continuing exploitation and pillage of Palestinian natural resources by Israel, and the persecution of Palestinian human rights defenders, including women, are critical means through which Israel maintains and further entrenches its apartheid regime and carries on with the de facto annexation of the occupied Palestinian territory.
Accordingly, Al-Haq calls upon:
The International community, third states, and private entities to recognise Israel’s regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people, including Palestinian women, amounting to the crime apartheid;
The international community, through the UN, to impose sanctions in order to compel Israel to immediately cease all racist and discriminatory acts that violate the fundamental rights and protections guaranteed to Palestinian women and girls and denied under Israel’s apartheid regime;
Third states to abide by their obligations not to render aid or assistance in maintaining Israel’s occupation, apartheid and settler colonisation, and impose sanctions on the corporate entities domiciled in their territories and any other company profiting from Israel’s exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and illegal occupation.