Retired Deputy Principal and Comhlámh member, Patrick Moloney* has signed up to travel to Israel and the West Bank, part of occupied Palestine. Patrick will spend three months as a human rights observer and monitor, as part of an international programme called the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel(EAPPI).
The accompaniment programme began in 2002 following a plea by the church leaders in Jerusalem to have a nonviolent international presence in the region. The programme provides a proactive presence to individuals and communities most at risk from the ongoing conflict.
The work of the human rights observer and monitor may involve accompanying children to and from their school, walking alongside farmers as they make their way to their lands or monitoring and reporting incidents of human rights abuses at one of the many checkpoints dotted across the landscape of Palestine.
Patrick developed his interest in the conflict in the region during a “Right to Education” visit he undertook in 2012 with a group of Irish academics. The group visited educational institutions in the West Bank and supported the Palestinian right to education.
“I came back to Ireland after that visit in 2012 shocked and horrified at what I had witnessed; the inhumane treatment of Palestinians, the methods used to degrade them as human beings and the obstacles that were put in their way to prevent their education. I promised myself that, if possible, I would return after I retired and contribute in some small way to being part of an international presence in the region”
Teams of human rights monitors, Ecumenical Accompaniers as they are called, are placed across different locations in the West Bank, to observe, monitors and report on human rights abuses and breaches of International Humanitarian law. Incident reports are logged and provided to international organisations. Patrick will be a member of one of those teams.
The programme involves training prior to departure to prepare the observers for the situations that they are likely to encounter during their three-month stay. Advocacy training is also provided and on return to Ireland Patrick will host several talks and events to highlight and disseminate what he has witnessed during his stay.
For more information about the EAPPI Programme see www.quaker.org.uk/EAPPI
For eyewitness accounts see the EAPPI UK and Ireland blog: http://eyewitnessblogs.com
EAPPI are signatories to the Comhlámh Code of Good Practice.
*Patrick Moloney is a pseudonym so as to protect the author’s identity