10 February, 2010 — Center for Constitutional Rights
Ancient and historically important burial grounds are part of the cultural heritage of humanity. One such burial ground is the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem, a holy site believed to date back to the 7th century when companions of the Prophet Mohammed were reputedly buried there. It was an active burial ground until 1948 and it has repeatedly been designated as an historical site. The Israeli government and the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) are in the process of building a so-called “Center for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance” on the site of Mamilla Cemetery. The museum’s construction has already resulted in the disinterment of hundreds of graves and the whereabouts of countless human remains are unknown. The desecration of the Mamilla Cemetery violates the human rights of the descendants of those buried there.
Israel has an obligation to respect and protect holy sites, including Mamilla cemetery, under international law, United Nations resolutions and under its own domestic law. Despite Israel’s legal obligations, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of construction of the museum and the government has refused to halt the disinterment of bodies and the destruction of the ancient cemetery. Today, CCR filed a petition on behalf of the Palestinian families of those buried at Mamilla, urging several international bodies to demand that the Government of Israel:
1. Halt further construction of the “Museum of Tolerance” on the Mamilla Cemetery;
2. Document and reveal to petitioners the whereabouts of all human remains and artifacts;
3. Recover and rebury all human remains where they were originally found in coordination with the proper Muslim authorities; and
4. Declare the Mamilla Cemetery an antiquity to be preserved and protected.
For more information, please see our webpage dedicated to this issue and our new factsheet. Also, please watch Columbia professor and author Rashid Khalidi, a petitioner who has ancestors buried in the cemetery, and CCR President Michael Ratner on today’s Democracy Now! program.
Thank you for your continued support in the struggle for justice.