Protect Lawyers Fighting for Prisoner Rights in Palestine
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Palestinian lawyers, Shireen and Shadi Issawi and Amjad Al Safadi were arrested on 6th March 2014, Omar As Skafi, Mahmoud Abou Asnina and Nadim Al Gharib were also arrested around this time. Shireen's brother, Medhat Issawi, the office manager for the legal firm where all the lawyers work was arrested six days later on March 12th. Shadi was swiftly released on bail but Shireen and Medhat remain imprisoned. Their court hearing has been postponed for a year. The other human rights lawyers were released on bail after 50 days detention.
Tragically, Al Safadi was found hung in his home five days after his release from Moskobiyeh, Jerusalem’s notorious underground detention centre. Al Safadi was a psychiatric patient who was denied his regular medication while imprisoned. Medical neglect is an ongoing problem in Israeli prisons and a root cause of many protests. It is believed Safadi took his own life due to intense interrogation (including electric shocks) over a 42 day period, sleep deprivation and denial of medical care.
Like 40% of all Palestinian men, Shireen’s brothers have all been imprisoned. Dedicated to the prisoner issue Shireen writes that she will work until all the prisoners are freed.
‘Being a lawyer, I have the right to defend prisoners. I have only provided legal services and have not acted unlawfully. The goal of my detention is to deter other lawyers from doing their duty to serve and defend prisoners’.
Shireen who was the spokesperson for her brother, Samer Issawi during his 270 day hunger strike has gone on hunger strike at her unjust imprisonment. There are currently 5000 prisoners in Israeli prisons including 200 children and 19 women. 120 prisoners are on hunger strike in protest at holding prisoners in Administrative detention - without charge or trial.
Samer Issawi asks for the people of Palestine and the free people of the world to stand by his family and other human right lawyers because ‘standing beside them is standing beside truth and justice. We ask all the just lawyers in the world to support these lawyers because it is not acceptable that this act of terrorism is committed against them while their colleagues and the free people of the world are silent’.
We the undersigned appeal to you as an organisastion whose founding Honorary President, the inspirational lawyer Nelson Mandela, showed us the duty of a lawyer is the struggle for justice. He languished on Robben Island imprisoned for 18 years for refusing to let go of the cherished ideal "of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities”. He also affirmed that South African freedom was incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians. We ask the Israeli bar of your association to help release Shireen Issawi and her brother Medhat. We also ask that they work to protect Palestinian lawyers from imprisonment and abuse. We believe that failure to protect Palestinian lawyers means they should be boycotted by the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute.
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