Protect Civilians – We Demand an Immediate and Lasting Ceasefire
MÄN and a large collection of organizations today publish an open letter to Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström. As part of the international community, the Swedish government should do everything in its power to act and initiate a political solution for sustainable peace in Palestine and Israel!
Open Letter to Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström
PROTECT CIVILIANS – WE DEMAND AN IMMEDIATE AND LASTING CEASEFIRE
We are a collection of organizations working for human rights in Sweden and around the world. We see it as our duty to stand up for people's freedoms and rights, especially when these are not upheld and protected by our authorities and institutions.
Since October 7, we have witnessed with horror how thousands of civilians have been killed in Palestine and Israel, and the death toll rises every hour. Armed groups carried out indiscriminate and illegal attacks on Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking over 200 people as hostages. Hostages who must be released immediately and unconditionally. Israel has responded with indiscriminate and illegal counterattacks, killing at least 18,000 people, including over 6,000 children, in Gaza. Thousands more have been injured. At least 1.9 million people, over 85 percent of the population, have been forced to flee in Gaza.
We must not forget that behind these numbers are people: children, youth, and adults who once shared memories and experiences with their loved ones.
The situation is urgent, and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is unfathomable. Israel's 16-year illegal blockade has intensified, hindering people's access to basic necessities such as gas, food, water, and medicine. Punishing civilians in Gaza for actions they are not responsible for constitutes collective punishment and is a war crime. Several international independent human rights and humanitarian organizations, UN agencies, and UN independent human rights experts have reported war crimes in Gaza.
While the situation in Gaza is unprecedented, human rights abuses also continue on the occupied West Bank, where Israeli authorities have significantly increased the use of arbitrary detentions, torture, and inhumane treatment against Palestinians. It is the responsibility of all of us never to justify or normalize war crimes.
Recently, the parties agreed to the release of hostages and prisoners, as well as a humanitarian pause to allow humanitarian aid to reach the civilian population in Gaza. This was a first step, but much more effort is needed to end the ongoing suffering. A ceasefire covering the entire Gaza Strip and lasting long enough to stop the humanitarian catastrophe is required. This demands greater political efforts from the world's countries.
Sweden has historically had an important voice in global contexts when it comes to defending human rights. As part of the international community, the Swedish government should now do everything in its power to act for a political solution for sustainable peace.
We demand that the government acts for:
An immediate and lasting ceasefire
That humanitarian aid reaches the civilian population in the whole of Gaza safely and unconditionally
That international humanitarian law is upheld by all parties
That the civilian population is protected from indiscriminate attacks
We, the undersigned organizations, demand that you, the Swedish government, act to protect civilians.
Anna Johansson, Secretary-General, Amnesty International Sweden
Shahab Ahmadian, Chairperson, MÄN
Anna Stenvinkel, Secretary-General, ForumCiv
Anna Sundström, Secretary-General, Olof Palmes Internationella Center
Elin Wernquist, Secretary-General, Barnrättsbyrån
Jennifer Vidmo, Secretary-General, ActionAid Sweden
Kerstin Bergeå, Chair, Svenska Freds- och Skiljedomsföreningen
Martin Nihlgård, Secretary-General, Individuell Människohjälp
Mattias Brunander, Secretary-General, Diakonia
Petra Tötterman Andorff, Secretary-General, Kvinna till Kvinna
Farhad Mazi Esfahani, Secretary-General, Clowns Without Borders Sweden