We are very concerned about the fate of our friend Mustapha Awad, a young artist and a Belgian worker of Palestinian origin. Mustapha was arrested by the Israeli authorities on 19 July 2018. There are very serious reasons to fear that he is or will be subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment during his detention.
Mr. Awad is a Belgian citizen of Palestinian origin; he was born in Ain el-Helweh refugee camp in Lebanon. Mr Awad was recognized as a refugee in Belgium. Since becoming a Belgian citizen, he decided to visit Palestine, his ancestral homeland.
He was arrested on the border between Jordan and Palestine by the Israeli armed forces who control the Palestinian borders.
Since then, he has been held in custody and interrogated.
For two weeks, Mustafa did not have a lawyer; no one could defend him or demand that his most basic rights be respected, such as having contact with his family members.
He only saw the Belgian consul on August 8, after 20 days of interrogation. On August 16, he appeared in court, but was again sent back to an Israeli interrogation center.
This situation is unacceptable. Palestinians imprisoned in Israel are subjected to torture and all kinds of violence during interrogations. This violence includes: physical assault, severe psychological pressure, prolonged sleep deprivation, etc. This abuse is legal under Israeli law. According to our sources, Mustapha was interrogated for 20 hours in a row at a time: three teams of interrogators took turns. In addition, Mustapha Awad has health problems and suffers from chronic, unbearable lower back pain.
Mr. Awad works in Belgium, has many friends and is a volunteer in several associations. He is an artist, performs on stage and is also a cultural worker and human rights defender. He is committed to the Palestinian cause.
As co-founder of the popular debkeh (Palestinian dance) troupe Raj’een, he has performed with the group at numerous events in Belgium and across Europe. Mustapha is a son, brother and friend of many – his family in Belgium, his family in Lebanon, his dear friends and a large community around the world that knows and supports his work.
Mustapha Awad must be released. He did not commit any crime. We are counting on Belgium to shoulder its responsibilities and protect its citizens against this arbitrary arrest and against all forms of torture and inhuman treatment.
Mustapha has always acted in defense of the human rights of Palestinians facing unjust imprisonment. Today, it is time to defend the rights of Mustapha.
Raj’een dabkeh troupe and the “Free Mustapha” Committee
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Publié sur Samidoun le 17 août 2018