Continued destruction of Jerusalem Cemetery/Documents to UN agencies – Letter from Palestine

Identical letters dated 10 August 2011 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General
  I have the honour to transmit herewith relevant documents along with letters written by 45 prominent Palestinians from Jerusalem and Israel, including Christian and Muslim figures, politicians, businesspeople and civil society activists, addressed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, and the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, urging that they take action to stop the continued destruction of Ma’man Allah Cemetery in Jerusalem by the Israeli Government (see annex).
 The present letter is in follow up to our letter dated 9 April 2010 (A/ES-10/486-S/2010/184), in which we enclosed the petition “Urgent action on human rights violations by Israel: Desecration of the Ma’man Allah (Mamilla) Muslim Cemetery in the Holy City of Jerusalem”, filed by Palestinian individuals whose ancestors are buried at Ma’man Allah Cemetery in addition to several other NGOs from Palestine, Israel and the United States that oppose the establishment of so called Centre for Human Dignity and Museum of Tolerance on the human remains of the dead Muslims buried in the Cemetery. 
 We would like to recall that the Charter of the United Nations reaffirmed “faith in fundamental human rights, and in the dignity and worth of the human person” and committed all Member States to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”. Ironically both the Centre and the Museum bear names that do not befit this act of bigotry and contempt against the dignity and worth of the human person. Protection of cultural heritage and cultural property, including religious sites such as cemeteries, is guaranteed by international human rights instruments such as the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Further building in the cemetery constitutes a violation of basic human rights, including the right to manifest religious beliefs, the right to family and culture, and the right to freedom from discrimination, as set forth in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. 
 Israel, the occupying Power, must be compelled to put an end to its unlawful policy of discrimination and contempt towards Palestinian Muslim and Christian holy places. We call on the international community, in particular the United Nations, to take the necessary actions to put an end to these violations. 
 I kindly request that the text of the present letter and its annexes be circulated as a document of the General Assembly, under agenda items 36 and 37, and of the Security Council.
(Signed) Riyad Mansour
Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations


  Annex I to the identical letters dated 10 August 2011 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General




Annex II to the identical letters dated 10 August 2011 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

Letter dated 20 July 2011 from the Acting Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights addressed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights 

Letter dated 20 July 2011 from the Acting Legal Director
of the Center for Constitutional Rights addressed to the
Director-General of UNESCO



Jerusalem, 20 July 2011 


Ms. Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; 

Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO 


RE: Urgent Action to Prevent the Jerusalem Municipality from Completely Desecrating Ma’man Allah (Mamilla) Cemetery 

With our warmest regards from the Holy City of Jerusalem, 

Mamilla Cemetery is one of the oldest Palestinian cemeteries, in which were buried numerous Companions and followers of the Prophet Muhammad, learned scholars, military commanders and many notables of Jerusalem throughout history. Unfortunately, ever since the Nakbah, this cemetery has been continuously targeted by the Israeli authorities. Indeed, 85 per cent of its area has been turned into parks and streets, and buildings have been erected over parts of it. Only 23 dunums of the cemetery remain, and even this area has not been spared by the Israeli authorities, which have attempted to dispose of what is left of it in any way possible. 

On 25 June 2011, under cover of darkness in the late hours of the night, Jerusalem Municipality bulldozers entered Mamilla Cemetery and completely destroyed some 100 graves and grave markers. The authorities are still determined to continue the levelling and destruction of the graves of Jerusalem’s ancestors, and they have placed red marks on dozens of additional graves in preparation for their destruction. This comes against the backdrop of official threats that construction will begin on the site of the cemetery of what they brazenly and unashamedly call “A Center for Human Dignity — Museum of Tolerance”! We ask you: To what humanity could this possibly refer? What dignity? What tolerance? 

In the face of these troubling developments, we the undersigned, in the name of our steadfast Muslim and Christian Arab people in the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem, the “Flower of Cities”, appeal urgently for you to intervene immediately in order to stop the desecration of this cemetery by sending a delegation to investigate the situation and putting pressure on the Government of Israel, in accordance with the Human Rights Council resolution of 2010. This is especially important in light of the sanctity and historical importance of this cemetery, and the fact that it is an exceptional archaeological site, which is no less holy than the Christian or Jewish cemeteries whose desecration is also prohibited. 

We therefore ask that you accord due priority to considering the petition submitted to you by a distinguished group of Jerusalemites, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, which includes thorough historical and legal documentation on this issue and rightful and just requests that no reasonable person could refuse. 

Thank you for your cooperation. 


 •  Shaykh Ibrahim Sarsour — Member of Knesset. 

 •  Mr. Ibrahim Matar — The National Christian Society. 

 •  Mr. Ahmed Hashem al-Zaghayer — President, Union of Chambers of Commerce. 

 •  Mr. Usama al-Sa’adi — Attorney. 

 •  Ms. Ilham Salama, Social Department, YMCA. 

 •  Mr. Iyad al-Masrouji — Businessman and Investor. 

 •  Mr. Bernard Sabella — Member of Palestinian Legislative Council. 

 •  Mr. Tawfiq Habash — Businessman. 

 •  Mr. Jamal Zahalqa — Member of Knesset. 

 •  Dr. Jamal Nusseibeh — Attorney-at-Law. 

 •  Mr. Hatem Abd Al-Qader — Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Palestinian Authority. 

 •  Mr. Hana Siniora — Businessman. 

 •  Mr. Hana ‘Amira — Member of the Executive Committee, Palestine Liberation Organization. 

 •  Engineer Khaled al-Kaluti — Member of the Board of Trustees of the Welfare Association. 

 •  Ms. Dina Zarina — Secular Committee in the Holy Land. 

 •  Ms. Rania Elias — Director, Yabous Cultural Center. 

 •  Ms. Randa Makhlouf — Secular Committee in the Holy Land. 

 •  Engineer Zaki Aghbariya — President Al-Aqsa Association for Waqf and Culture. 

 •  Ms. Zahira Kamal — Secretary General Fida, Former Minister, Palestinian Authority. 

 •  Dr. Sari Nusseibeh — President, Al-Quds University. 

 •  Mr. Salah Atallah — Businessman. 

 •  Engineer Adnan al-Husseini — Governor of Jerusalem District, Palestinian Authority. 

 •  Mr. Azzam Abu Sa’ud — General Director, Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce. 

 •  Dr. Afu Ighbaria — Member of Knesset. 

 •  Archbishop Atallah Hanna. 

 •  Shaykh Dr. Akrama Sabri — President of the High Islamic Council and Preacher of the Aqsa Mosque. 

 •  Mr. Omar al-Alamy — Associate General Director, Jerusalem Cigarette Company. 

 •  Mr. Francis Tamas — Financial Expert. 

 •  Engineer Fouad al-Daqqaq — Advisor, Jerusalem Holding Company. 

 •  Shaykh Kamal al-Katib — Vice President of the Islamic Movement in Israel. 

 •  Engineer Mazen Sinokrot — Former Minister and businessman. 

 •  Mr. Muhammad Baraka — Member of Knesset. 

 •  Dr. Muhammad Jadallah — Representative of National Forces in Jerusalem. 

 •  Mr. Muhammad Zaydan — President, Arab Higher Follow-up Committee in Israel. 

 •  Dr. Mohamed al-Masrouji — President of the Board of Directors, Businessmen’s Association and businessman. 

 •  Rosary Sister’s High School. 

 •  Mr. Mas’ud Ghanaim — Member of Knesset. 

 •  Engineer Mustafa Abu Zahra — President of the Council of Islamic Cemeteries in Jerusalem. 

 •  Dr. Mahdi Abd al-Hadi — President, Palestinian Academic Society for International Affairs. 

 •  Shaykh Najih Bakirat — Head, Manuscripts and Culture Section, Al-Aqsa Mosque. 

 •  Professor Nabil Mashhour — President of the Union of the Arab Orthodox Club. 

 •  Ms. Hind Khoury — Former Minister and Jerusalemite Activist. 

 •  Mr. Hisham al-Kalouti — Jerusalemite Activist. 

 •  Mr. Wasif Thahir — President of the Board of Directors, YMCA Jerusalem. 

 •  Mr. Yusef Sanahir — Center for Church Relations. 


 •  Ambassador Ibrahim Khreishi, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Office at Geneva 

 •  Ambassador Elias Sanbar, Permanent Observer of Palestine at UNESCO, Paris 

 •  Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations in New York 

 •  Mr. Michael Ratner, Ms. Maria LaHood, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York. 




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