Human Rights Monitor Meets with European Leaders After Deportation from Israel

The Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch has begun a European tour to talk about human rights in Israel after he was deported from the country Monday.

HRW's Omar Shakir, who had been working in Israel as the organization's country director for Israel and Palestine for three years, was accused by the state of supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Israeli law allows for the deportation of foreigners who support boycotting Israel, as well as to deny their entry into the country.

Shakir said the reason why he was deported was part of a wider campaign for Israel to "muzzle" human rights advocacy in the country. He denies supporting BDS.

HRW and Shakir attempted to challenge the deportation order, but the country's top court upheld the government's decision.

On the day of his deportation, Shakir said he would brief six European governments and the European Union's European Parliament on "Israel's systematic repression of Palestinians."

Shakir told VOA he briefed the members of the Swedish government Tuesday on underlying issues in Israel, such as the settlements in the West Bank and the "discriminatory regime" in the country.

Shakir said he also plans to meet with officials and representatives of the Netherlands, France, Britain, Belgium and Germany throughout the week.

Shakir will also meet with Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

European countries have already expressed concerns over Shakir's deportation order.

"The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association, and calls on the Israeli Government to reverse its decision on revoking the work visa of Omar Shakir," an EU spokesperson said in a statement Nov 11.

Shakir said the international system needs to "reboot" the way it handles the human rights situation in Israel.

He said, in the past, human rights monitors and researchers have been denied entry to the country, detained and given travel bans, but he is the first to be deported.

Shakir said he will continue to serve as HRW's country director, but will work remotely from Jordan.

by via Voice of America - English