My name is Janis Just, and I am a political science student at the University of Cape Town. I attended the
full proceedings of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine as I am covering it on behalf of a German newspaper. I attended in my
individual capacity and am not part of any specific lobby group.
On Monday November 7, I attended the post Tribunal press conference. Organisers of the Russell Tribunal recognised me from a different press conference last week where I asked a question about Hamas’ violations of human rights. When attempting to ask a question this time, the organisers called me a “serious heckler” and a “Zionist activist”.
The first accusation is patently untrue, as I did not engage in any heckling whatsoever. As to the second accusation, I have no problem wearing this title. However, their labelling of me as a “Zionist activist” was their attempt to delegitimise my argument and me as a person. This is not only against any democratic convention, it is contrary to the stated intention of the Russell Tribunal itself - which is hears all evidence and seek the truth.
Simply for asking an uncomfortable question, which apparently did not fit with the agenda of the Tribunal, I was forcibly removed from the Russell Tribunal's official press conference. Not only was I not allowed to ask any questions, but in attempting to raise issues of concern, I was thrown to the floor, dragged out of the conference and threatened with more violence.
I have laid a charge of assault against the Tribunal organisers. However, what concerns me more than the physical abuse to which I was subjected, is that a gathering of such eminent persons for a process that has the stated aim of attempting to examine testimony and uncover the truth, in the spirit of judicial enquiry, not only were not capable of hearing differing opinions, but that such opinions were forcibly silenced. That is far more reminiscent of the apartheid regime than any of the allegations levelled against the State of Israel at the Tribunal itself.
To the jurists of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine: I demand an answer to my question and an apology from the organisers of the Tribunal for physically attacking me.