Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Did Israel disappear an Australian citizen?

A state decides that someone is a threat to "national security". It disappears them and holds them incommunicado in a secret prison where even the guards are forbidden to know their name. It refuses to acknowledge this detention, and media reports on it are suppressed by official censorship. When the prisoner finally hangs themselves, worn out by the indefinite, arbitrary detention, it refuses to acknowledge even their death.

Iran? Syria? China? No, this happened in Israel, "the Middle East's only democracy". And now it looks like their victim was an Australian:

Evidence has been unearthed that strongly suggests Israel's infamous Prisoner X, who was jailed under extraordinary circumstances in 2010, was an Australian national from Melbourne.

Investigations by the ABC's Foreign Correspondent program have revealed Ben Zygier, who used the name Ben Alon in Israel, was found hanged in a high-security cell at a prison near Tel Aviv in late 2010.

His body was flown to Melbourne for burial a week later.

The death goes part of the way to explain the existence in Israel of a so-called Prisoner X, widely speculated in local and international media as an inmate whose presence has been acknowledged by neither the jail system nor the government.

Disappearance is a crime under international law. The Israeli government needs to be held to account for this.