14 January 2018


Statement by Silvana Martínez, President IFSW-LAC Region                                                                          

Munther Amira is a Palestinian Social worker who was unfairly arrested by the Israeli army. He was arrested for claiming justice, for demanding rights. For peacefully demonstrating to defend the rights of children who had been detained by the Israeli authorities. Munther Amira could have been me, or it could have been you. It could have been any social worker who follows the principles of social work: defending human rights, seeking social justice, and for the autonomy and self-determination of peoples. Principles that we hold from the International Federation of Social Workers and are embodied in many documents such as the International Definition of Social Work, ethical principles, among others.

Munther Amira is a very courageous Social worker. His claim is my claim, it is the claim of millions of social workers who defend freedom of expression, the right to speak out and raise our voices to injustice. His arrest is absolutely unfair and that is why the Commission on Human Rights of FITS has spoken. Thousands of social workers around the world have signed a petition asking for their immediate freedom.

We cannot stay silent and ignore the matter. We have to do something. We have to send letters requesting Amir’s freedom to the various embassies of Israel in our countries. We need to increase the number of signatures and petitions  in order to make this situation visible for the rest of the world to acknowledge it. This social worker has been secretary General of the Palestinian Union of Social Workers and Psychologists (PUSWP). A man committed with the profession and his people. His cause is fair. He claimed the freedom of the children arrested by the Israeli army. His cause is based on the search for justice, the right to live in peace, and for the respect towards the right to self-determination.

This request, this fight, this cause is also a demand of the United Nations itself. Indeed, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, adopted by the resolution 1514 (XV)”, was drawn up at the United Nations General Assembly on 14th December 1960. I think at this point, it is important to remember what this statement says signed more than 50 years ago, because we have our representatives at the UN, because we have decided to work together with this organisation and therefore we have to demand compliance of this rule.

“The General Assembly,

Mindful of the determination proclaimed by the peoples of the world in the Charter of the United Nations to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Conscious of the need for the creation of conditions of stability and well-being and peaceful and friendly relations based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of all peoples, and of universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion,

Recognizing the passionate yearning for freedom in all dependent peoples and the decisive role of such peoples in the attainment of their independence,

Aware of the increasing conflicts resulting from the denial of or impediments in the way of the freedom of such peoples, which constitute a serious threat to world peace,

Considering the important role of the United Nations in assisting the movement for independence in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories,

Recognizing that the peoples of the world ardently desire the end of colonialism in all its manifestations,

Convinced that the continued existence of colonialism prevents the development of international economic co-operation, impedes the social, cultural and economic development of dependent peoples and militates against the United Nations ideal of universal peace,

Affirming that peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law,

Believing that the process of liberation is irresistible and irreversible and that, in order to avoid serious crises, an end must be put to colonialism and all practices of segregation and discrimination associated therewith,

Welcoming the emergence in recent years of a large number of dependent territories into freedom and independence, and recognizing the increasingly powerful trends towards freedom in such territories which have not yet attained independence,

Convinced that all peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory,

Solemnly proclaims the necessity of bringing to a speedy and unconditional end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations;

And to this end Declares that:

  1. The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.
  2. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
  3. Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.
  4. All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected.
  5. Immediate steps shall be taken, in Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom.
  6. Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  7. All States shall observe faithfully and strictly the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the present Declaration on the basis of equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of all States, and respect for the sovereign rights of all peoples and their territorial integrity.

Beyond our nationality, our creed and our individual political beliefs, it is important to remember that we are social workers and as such we have to defeat the values and interests of our profession in defense and vindication of our Ethical-political principles, above our personal interests and stances.

Munther Amira represents the spirit of the fight for a fair cause. He represents the value of going out on the street and demanding the compliance of what the United Nations itself establishes. He chose not to be silent, he refused staying comfortably at home watching the  injustices that are being committed against the children and adolescents of his people as the case of Ahed Tamini without doing nothing.

As a social worker and the President of the IFSW Region of Latin America and the Caribbean, I sympathise with all the social workers of Palestine, and therefore I demand the immediate freedom of Munther Amira and summon all the social workers of the world to unite and mobilise for the release of this courageous and committed colleague.

If they violate the rights of a social worker, they would be violating rights that affect all of us. We are all with MUNTHER AMIRA!!!!

Dra. Silvana Martínez                                                                      

President IFSW-LAC Region