PRESS RELEASE – Thursday, 23 August 2018

A delegation of the support committee for Mustapha Awad, a Belgian artist of Palestinian origin, imprisoned since July 19 by Israel, was received this Wednesday, August 22 at the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The delegation was composed of An Muylaert, a doctor who has worked with Mustapha since his arrival as a young refugee in Belgium; Alexis Deswaef, Honorary President of the League of Human Rights; Mohammed Okal, young dancer in the Raj’een debkeh (traditional dance) group that Mustapha founded; Hamdan Al Damiri, representing the Palestinian community in Belgium; Dominique Surleau, President of PAC (Présence et Action Culturelles) and Myriam De Ly (Plate-forme Charleroi-Palestine).

The members of the delegation shared their personal connections with Mustapha and their deep concern about his fate. The delegates noted that they felt that the four officials of the SPF Foreign Affairs administration (three representatives of the Consular Branch and one person specifically in charge of the Middle East) listened to their concerns and welcomed them. The delegation were also informed of the steps that the Department had taken after they became aware that Mustapha was arrested by Israeli authorities. The delegates requested that the Belgian Consul arrange a new visit with Mustapha.

The delegation presented the 1,364 signatures to the « Free Mustapha » petition, launched on Friday, August 18. Over four days, including holidays and the weekend, the Free Mustapha Committee was able to gather 1,263 individual signatures and 101 organizational signatures, including 37 Belgian organizations. The representatives of the Ministry said that they would share the news of the delegation’s visit and the growing wind of solidarity that is blowing in Belgium with the Belgian consul in Jerusalem, so that Mustapha feels the support that exists.

Alexis Deswaef and other members of the delegation expressed their deep concern about the human rights violations regularly committed during the interrogation of prisoners in Israel (inhuman treatment, torture, etc.) Ministry officials seemed to share these fears. An Muylaert raised the point that Mustapha should have, at the very least, the opportunity to call his family.

We are now awaiting the next diplomatic steps that will be taken : the consul’s next visit with Mustapha in prison, the new hearing before an Israeli court in early September and access to the case file by Mustapha’s lawyer.

Waiting, however, does not mean inactivity. We know that Mustapha and the Raj’een group are known throughout the country. We will continue our campaign of information and mobilization for his release until he is finally back among us. We invite you to sign the petition and to follow our Facebook page : https://facebook.com/freemustapha/

The Free Mustapha Committee

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