AURDIP and BRICUP’s letter to the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation concerning the arrest of the astro-physicist Imad al-Barghouthi


To the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation

Our colleague, the internationally renowned astro-physicist, Imad al-Barghouthi of Al-Quds University, was arbitrarily arrested by the Israeli authorities on 6 December last as he was crossing at Karama from the Occupied West Bank to Jordan. Professor al-Barghouthi was on his way to attend a congress of the Arab Association of Astronomy and Space Sciences, of which he is a founding member, which was being held in the United Arab Emirates. He was subsequently placed in administrative detention for a period of three months renewable, without being charged or tried for any offence. According to unconfirmed reports – and in the absence of any charge, we have only unconfirmed reports – he was arrested and imprisoned on account of his participation last summer in demonstrations against the war in Gaza (’Operation Protective Shield’) or for his written protests. In either case, this would amount to an attack upon his freedom of expression.

The Israeli practice of detaining an individual without formal charge or trial under military orders with indefinite renewal derives from emergency regulations introduced during the British Mandate. According to a number of human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, individuals held on this basis by the Israeli military authorities are frequently subject to violations of their fundamental rights, through torture and ill treatment during their interrogation and cruel and degrading treatment while in detention. In addition, such prisoners and their families – and Professor Barghouthi is far from being the only case – endure the uncertainty and injustice of not knowing the precise reason for their detention.

These practices are, it must be pointed out, contrary to Israel’s obligations under international law. This alone is sufficient reason to demand most strongly the immediate release of Professor Barghouthi as well as other prisoners of conscience arbitrarily held by the Israeli military authorities.

We appeal in particular to you, as European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, for a particular reason : Israel has access to the European Union’s research and innovation programmes, including ’Horizon 2020’, on the same basis as member states of the European Union. It has indeed just obtained 27 grants from the European Research Council, placing it fifth among all eligible countries. Access to this programme is subject to certain very precise conditions concerning respect for fundamental rights. Article 2 of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Israel stipulates that « relations between the parties must be based upon respect for human rights and democratic principles, guiding their domestic and international policies, and constitute an essential element of this Agreement. » The arbitrary arrest of Professor Imad Barghouthi is a serious new violation by Israel of both the spirit and the letter of the Agreement. We therefore call upon the European Union to demand that Israel release Professor Barghouthi. We call for this as European citizens, or in some cases as academics with strong connections to Europe, who are concerned for the political and human values on which the European Union is founded. But we also make this call as scholars who will do everything in our power to denounce and block European Union – Israel agreements, if Israel continues to flout international law and the right of Palestinians to education.

Yours sincerely,

Signatories :

Prof. Ahmed Abbes, Directeur de recherche au CNRS, Paris, France

Prof. Eric Alliez, Université Paris 8, France ; Kingston University, UK

Prof. Etienne Balibar, Professeur émérite à l’Université de Paris-Ouest Nanterre, France

Dr. Suleiman Baraka, UNESCO chair holder in astronomy astrophysics and space science, Palestine

Prof. Arnaud Beauville, Professeur émérite à l’Université de Nice, France

Professor emerita Sherna Berger Gluck, California State University, Long Beach, USA

Prof. Arnaud Bondon, Directeur de recherche au CNRS, Rennes, France

Prof. Jean-Pierre Bouché, ancien Directeur de recherche au CNRS, Toulouse, France

Dr. Glenn Bowman, Reader in Social Anthropology, Director of Research School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, Canterbury UK

Dr. Robert Boyce, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

Prof. Haim Bresheeth, Centre for Media Studies, SOAS London, UK

Prof. Jean Bricmont, Professeur de Physique théorique, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique

Prof. Aldric Brown, Department of Mathematics, University College London, UK

Prof. François Burgat, Directeur de recherche au​ CNRS, IREMAM, Aix en Provence, France

Dr. Bernard Caillaud, Chercheur à Paris School of Economics, France

Prof. Pierre Cartier, Directeur de recherche émérite au CNRS, Paris, France

Prof. Yves Chilliard, Directeur de Recherches à l’INRA, Clermont-Ferrand, France

Mr. Mike Cushman, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

Dr. Bucker Dangor, Imperial College, London, UK

Prof. Graham Dawson, University of Brighton, UK

Prof. Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun, Professeure émérite à l’Université Paris-Diderot, France

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Deckers, Richmond University, London, UK

Prof. James Dickins, University of Leeds, UK

Mr. Michael Edwards, Senior Lecturer, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, London, UK

Prof. Jean Eisenstaedt, Directeur de recherche émérite au CNRS, Observatoire de Paris, France

Prof. Ivar Ekeland, ancien Président de l’Université Paris-Dauphine, France

Prof. Giorgio Gallo, University of Pisa, Italy

Prof. Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv, Israel

Prof. Catherine Goldstein, Directrice de recherche au CNRS, Paris, France

Prof. Jan-Erik Gustafsson, School of the Built Environment, KTH (Royal Institute of Technology), Stockholm, Sweden

Mr. Mark Haworth-Booth, OBE, UK

Dr. Pam Hanley, Research Fellow in the Institute for Effective Education, University of York, UK

Dr. Barbara E. Harrell-Bond, OBE, Emerita Professor and founding Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University, UK

Prof. Michael Harris, Université Paris-Diderot, France

Prof. Richard Hudson, FBA, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics, University College London, UK

Prof. Tim Jacoby, University of Manchester, UK

Prof. Florence Lederer, directrice de recherche émérite au CNRS, France

Prof. Tom Leonard, Emeritus Professor, University of Glasgow, UK

Prof. Malcolm H Levitt, FRS, University of Southampton, UK

Prof. Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond, Professeur émérite de l’Université de Nice, France

Prof. Michael Loughlin, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Dr. Michael Marten, School of Arts and Humanities, University of Stirling, UK

Prof. Dusa McDuff, Fellow of Royal Society, UK ; Barnard College, Columbia University, USA

Prof. William Messing, School of Mathematics, University of Minnesota, USA

Prof. Jamal Mimouni, Université de Constantine I, Algérie, Vice Président de l’Union Arabe d’Astronomie et des Sciences de l’Espace

Dr. José Luis Moraguès, Maître de Conférences à la retraite, Université Montpellier 3, France

Prof. David Mumford, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Brown and Harvard Universities, USA

Prof. John Mundy, Dept. Of Biology, Copenhagen University, Denmark

Prof. Martha Mundy, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

Prof. Joseph Oesterlé, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France

Prof. Sol Picciotto, Emeritus Professor, Lancaster University, UK

Prof. Olivier Pène, Directeur de recherche émérite au CNRS, Paris, France

Dr. Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick, UK

Prof. Roshdi Rashed, Directeur de recherche émérite au CNRS, Professeur honoraire à l’Université de Tokyo

Prof. Vincent Rivasseau, Département de Physique, Université Paris-Sud, France

Prof. Chris Roberts, University of Manchester, UK

Dr. Emmanuel Rollinde, Institut d’astrophysique de Paris, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France

Prof. Hilary Rose, Emerita Professor of Social Policy. University of Bradford, Emerita Professor of Physik, Gresham College, London, UK

Prof. Steven Rose, Emeritus Professor of Biology (neuroscience), Department of Life Health and Chemical Sciences, The Open University, Emeritus Professor of Physick (Genetics and Society), Gresham College London, UK

Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, Emeritus Professor of Operational Research, London School of Economics, UK

Prof. Pierre Schapira, Professeur émérite de l’Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France

Prof. Dominique Schiff, Directrice de recherche émérite au CNRS, France

Prof. Lionel Schwartz, Université Paris 13, France

Prof. Richard Seaford, University of Exeter, UK

Prof. Graeme Segal, FRS, Oxford University, UK

Prof. Suleiman Sharkh, University of Southampton, UK

Prof. Ur Shlonsky, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Ass. Prof. Tore Sivertsen, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

Prof. Eystein Skjerve, ECVPH, Norwegian University of Life Science, Centre for Epidemiologi and Biostatistics, Norway

Dr. Lina Suleiman, Department of Urban Planning and Environment, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden

Prof. Alexis Tadié, University of Paris Sorbonne, France

Prof. Rabah Tahraoui, University of Rouen, France

Prof. Gérard Toulouse, physicien, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France

Prof. Laurie Tuller, Université François-Rabelais, Tours, France

Prof. Gerd von der Lippe, Høgskolen i Telemark (Telemark University College), Norway

Dr. Dror Warschawski, CNRS et Université Paris Diderot, France

Prof. Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law, King’s College London, UK

Prof. Patrick Wolfe, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Prof. Hatem Zaag, Directeur de recherche au CNRS, Paris, France