In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, civil society has urged India to intervene against a crackdown by Israel on Palestinian civil rights activists working to sensitise the world to the plight of the people living in the occupied West Bank.

The latest arrest was that of Jamal Juma, coordinator of the stop-the-wall campaign. He was taken away without being allowed access to counsel. Israeli troops told his family that it could expect to see Mr. Juma only if there was a prisoner exchange.

“This is a clear indication that the rule of law would not apply,” the letter said, pointing out that at least 292 peacefully protesting Palestinian activists had been hauled away by the Israeli security forces since 2002. None could appeal against the arbitrary detention because of the application of military orders.

The letter also called on the Prime Minister to ensure that those detained were not tortured and that their detention conformed to the rule of international law.

Among the signatories are academics, journalists, former diplomats and bureaucrats, social activists, filmmakers and writers including Romila Thapar, Nandita Das, Anand Patwardhan, Urvashi Butalia, Meena Menon, Sudhanwa Deshpande, Achin Vinaik, Ayesha Kidwai, Prabhat Patnaik, C. P. Chandrashekhar, Prabir Purkayastha, Seema Mustafa, Jayati Ghosh, S. P.Shukla, Zafar Saifullah, Githa Hariharan, Saba Dewan, Shohini Ghosh, Saeed Mirza, Ramu Ramanthan and Kaori Takeuchi.

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