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Press release 29/11/2018

Persmededing Nederlands : onderaan
Communiqué en français : en-dessous
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Free Mustapha Committee Press Release – 29/11/2018
Belgian worker and artist Mustapha Awad sentenced to one year in prison in Israel.

Yesterday our dear friend Mustapha Awad was sentenced by an Israeli court to 12 months in prison. He was sentenced on the basis of « confessions » obtained under conditions related to torture (secret detention, forced interrogation 20H/day, sleep deprivation).
In reality, it is an empty file, dealing with facts for which he could not be convicted in Belgium.

Mustapha is accused of belonging to an « illegal » organization: for Israel any organization that resists occupation and apartheid is illegal. The Israeli court mentions a « training »: in fact, it is a computer security course, which could be organized by any human rights organization. As for support for « financing », the facts mentioned concern humanitarian action.

Once again, the Free Mustapha Committee asserts that Mustapha’s imprisonment is fundamentally unfair and unacceptable and the Committee will continue to demand his immediate release, as well as the end of Belgium’s official silence around this affair.

This message was also delivered at meeting with the Foreign Ministry on the day of conviction in Israel by delegation composed of An Muylaert – Mustapha’s Belgian mother, Alexis Deswaef – Honorary President of the League of Human Rights, Pierre Galand – President of the ABP and the World Organization Against Torture, Hamdan Al Damiri, and Myriam De Ly – members of the Free Mustapha Committee.

The delegation firmly asked that Minister Reynders take a public stand that Belgium can not tolerate such violations of international law and human rights and calls for the immediate release of Mustapha Awad.
The Free Mustapha Committee has already organized a new protest action. It will take place on Tuesday, December 11, at 17:30 on the Grand Place of Mons.

Freedom for Mustapha! Freedom for all Palestinian prisoners!

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Persmededeling van Comité Free Mustapha – 29/11/2018

De Belgische arbeider en artiest, Mustapha Awad, is veroordeeld tot één jaar gevangenisstraf in Israël

Gisteren werd onze vriend Mustapha Awad veroordeeld door een Israëlische rechtbank tot 12 maanden gevangenisstraf.

Hij werd veroordeeld op basis van « bekentenissen » bekomen onder omstandigheden die onder de categorie martelingen kunnen ondergebracht worden (ondervragingen 20 u op 24, beroven van slaap…).

In werkelijkheid gaat het om een leeg dossier, over feiten waarvoor hij in België niet kan veroordeeld worden.

Mustapha wordt ervan beschuldigd lid te zijn van een « illegale» organisatie. Israël beschouwt elke organisatie die zich verzet tegen de bezetting en apartheid als illegaal. De Israëlische rechtbank spreekt over een « training» : in de feiten gaat het over een computer cursus over beveiliging van gegevens, die kan georganiseerd worden door gelijk welke organisatie die mensenrechten verdedigt. En in verband met steun aan « financieringen», gaan de feiten over een humanitaire actie.

Eens te meer stelt het Comité Free Mustapha dat de detentie van Mustapha fundamenteel onrechtvaardig en onaanvaardbaar is en zij zal verder blijveren ijveren voor zijn onmiddellijke vrijlating, alsook voor het stoppen van de officiële stilte van de Belgische regering rond heel deze zaak.

Een delegatie van het Comité Free Mustafa deelde dat op 28 november ook mee op het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken. Dit was op de dag zelf dat Mustapha werd veroordeeld. Deze delegatie bestond uit An Muylaert, de Belgische moeder van Mustapha, Alexis Deswaef, ere-voorzitter van Ligue des Droits de l’homme, Pierre Galand, voorzitter van ABP en van Organisation mondiale contre la torture en Hamdan Al Damiri, en Myriam De Ly, leden van Comité Free Mustapha.

De delegatie vroeg met aandrang dat minister Reynders publiek een standpunt inneemt, dat hij verklaart dat België schendingen van het internationaal recht en van de rechten van de mens niet kan aanvaarden en dat hij de onmiddellijke vrijlating van Mustapha Awad eist.

Het Comité Free Mustapha roept op tot een nieuwe protestactie. Deze zal doorgaan op dinsdag 11 december, om 17 h 30, op de Grote Markt in Bergen.
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Communiqué de presse du Comité Free Mustapha – 29/11/2018

L’ouvrier et artiste belge, Mustapha Awad, a été condamné à un an de prison en Israël

Hier notre cher ami Mustapha Awad a été condamné par une cour israélienne à 12 mois de prison.
Il a été condamné sur base d’ « aveux » obtenus sous des conditions apparentées à la torture (mises au secret, interrogatoires musclés 20 h sur 24, privation de sommeil).

En réalité, il s’agit d’un dossier vide, portant sur des faits pour lesquels il ne pourrait pas être condamné en Belgique.

Mustapha est accusé d’appartenir à une organisation « illégale » : pour Israël toute organisation qui résiste à l’occupation et à l’apartheid est illégale. La cour israélienne évoque un « entraînement » : en fait, il s’agit d’un cours de sécurisation informatique, qui pourrait être organisé par n’importe quelle organisation de droits de l’homme. Quant au soutien à des « financements», les faits évoqués concernent une action humanitaire.

Une fois de plus, le Comité Free Mustapha affirme que l’emprisonnement de Mustapha est fondamentalement injuste et inadmissible et qu’il continuera d’exiger sa libération immédiate, ainsi que la fin du silence officiel de la Belgique autour de cette affaire.

C’est d’ailleurs ce qu’a communiqué une délégation du Comité, composée d’An Muylaert, la maman belge de Mustapha, Alexis Deswaef, président d’honneur de la Ligue des Droits de l’homme, Pierre Galand, président de l’ABP et de l’Organisation mondiale contre la torture et de Hamdan Al Damiri, et Myriam De Ly, membres du Comité Free Mustapha, au ministère des Affaires étrangères le jour même de la condamnation en Israël.

La délégation a demandé avec fermeté que le ministre Reynders prenne position publiquement, qu’il dise que la Belgique ne peut pas tolérer de telles violations du droit international et des droits de l’homme et qu’il réclame la libération immédiate de Mustapha Awad.

Le Comité Free Mustapha a d’ores et déjà organisé une nouvelle action de protestation. Elle aura lieu le mardi 11 décembre, à 17 h 30 sur la Grand’Place de Mons.

Liberté pour Mustapha ! Liberté pour tous les prisonniers palestiniens !

L’image contient peut-être : 4 personnes, personnes debout, chaussures et plein air
 

4 365 personnes atteintes

Belgium refuses to demand release of citizen jailed by Israel

Palestinian dancer Mustapha Awad pictured in Belgium, where he holds citizenship. (via Facebook)

Surrealism was once the preserve of painters in Belgium. Today, even the country’s diplomats appear to have mastered it.

For there is something surreal about how they are promoting the cartoon character Spirou as a human rights advocate, while refusing to stand up for a real-life Belgian artist whose human rights have been denied.

Mustapha Awad – an exponent of dabke, the traditional Palestinian dance – was arrested by the Israeli authorities in July. Awad is a Palestinian with Belgian citizenship. Yet the government in Brussels has been mostly silent about his continuing detention.

The silence was eventually broken last week. Didier Reynders, the Belgian foreign minister, tweeted that consular assistance was being provided to Awad and that Israel had been asked for clarification about the charges against him.

Reynders’ tweets were inexcusably timid.

Israel’s allegation that Awad belonged to a “terrorist” organization has been emphatically rejected by his legal team. The Israeli authorities have not presented any credible evidence – as Reynders has acknowledged – against Awad.

Mustapha Awad is a Palestinian who had never previously been to Palestine. Aged 36, he was born in Ein al-Hilweh, a refugee camp in Lebanon; Belgium recognized his refugee status when he was 20. Israel arrested him this summer as he tried to enter the occupied West Bank via Jordan.

Ill-treated

If Belgium takes its duty to protect all its citizens seriously, the government must demand Awad’s immediate and unconditional release.

The inference in Reynders’ tweets that Belgium is doing all it can does not hold up to scrutiny. It took almost three weeks until a Belgian diplomat went to see Awad in jail.

Awad has been prevented from making contact with family or friends. According to his lawyers, Awad has has been ill-treated, particularly through being deprived of sleep.

Reynders acted more swiftly when another Belgian citizen, Amaya Coppens, was detained in Nicaragua last month. She, too, was accused of terrorism.

Although he waited two-and-a-half months until making any public comment about Awad’s case, Reynders voiced his unease about Coppens’ situation within two days of her arrest. He made a point of discussing the matter with Nicaraguan representatives while visiting New York for the UN General Assembly.

Charles Michel, Belgium’s prime minister, was photographed shaking hands with Benjamin Netanyahu, his Israeli counterpart, during that gathering. There was no indication that Michel availed of the opportunity to push for Awad’s freedom.

Why is the Belgian government behaving so differently in these two cases?

Under Daniel Ortega’s presidency, Nicaragua has a strained relationship with the West. There is no major political or economic cost for Belgium to having a row with the left-wing administration in Managua.

Double standards

By contrast, Belgium boasts of its cordial relations with Israel. Sometimes, Belgian diplomats go so far as praising musicians from their country who bring a “great vibe” when they play Tel Aviv. Such inane praise overlooks how those musicians have refused to heed the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israel.

Belgium and Israel are significant commercial partners. Both Antwerp – Belgium’s second city – and Tel Aviv are important players in the global diamond trade, with extensive interaction between the two.

More than 40 percent of all Israeli goods imported to Belgium in 2017 were categorized as precious metals and stones.

The Belgian military is also a customer of Israeli weapons firm Elbit Systems.

Last year, Belgium briefly indicated that it may be willing to behave with a little less deference towards Israel. It took the lead among a group of EU countries in protesting the destruction caused by Israel to aid projects they had funded in the occupied West Bank.

The protest floundered – because Belgium did not accompany it with the threat of sanctions or a lawsuit. Predictably, Israel has kept on vandalizing Palestinian schools financed by the European taxpayer.

That was a vicious assault on the right to education. Yet rather than challenging Israel’s aggression, Belgium has been punishing Palestinians.

Belgium announced in September that it had cut off funding for schools administered by the Palestinian Authority. By doing so, Belgium capitulated to pressure from pro-Israel lobbyists objecting that one school bore the name of a Palestinian resistance fighter.

Israel habitually names streets and institutions after war criminals, and continues to openly celebrate the terrorists who bombed Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in 1946. That embrace of violence has never been an obstacle to Belgian support for the Israeli state.

As Belgium has a multicultural society, it should be proud of people like Mustapha Awad. He has led the Ra’jeen dabke troupe with great enthusiasm. I recall how he smiled radiantly at the end of a rousing performance by the group at a Brussels university earlier this year.

The refusal of Didier Reynders to demand Awad’s release smacks of double standards and, very possibly, racism.

Belgium’s foreign ministry is following a script that resembles George Orwell’s Animal Farm. All citizens are equal but some are more equal than others.

Campaign grows to free Belgian artist Mustapha Awad as labor unions, parliamentarians sign on

Supporters of Belgian-Palestinian artist, performer and human rights defender Mustapha Awad, detained by the Israeli occupation since 19 July 2018 when he was seized by occupation forces at the Karameh border crossing from Jordan, visited with representatives of the Belgian foreign ministry on Wednesday, 22 August. You too can take action to free Mustapha Awad! 

Awad’s arrest has sparked widespread condemnation from numerous Belgian and international organizations and individuals. Increasing attention has been drawn to the exclusion of BDS activists and human rights defenders from occupied Palestine and the interrogation of others at the colonially imposed borders. In this context, the arrest of Awad is a particularly chilling example of the seizure of a foreign citizen, who does not have a Palestinian ID, while he attempted to visit Palestine, the land from which his family was forced in 1948.

Rana Maher Daibes of Raj’een Dabkeh with Robert Verteneuil, president of the General Federation of Belgian Labor

As the case has become more visible in mainstream Belgian media, with both French and Dutch agencies reporting on the case, support for the imprisoned dancer – co-founder of the Raj’een debkeh group – has also grown. The FGTB (General Federation of Belgian Labour, the national socialist trade union federation in Belgium) endorsed the petition supporting Awad as did its president Robert Verteneuil. Belgian federal parliamentarian, Gwenaelle Grovonius, also signed on to the petition along with over 100 organizations and over 1,000 individuals.

Cultural groups like Presence et Action Culturelle and community groups and NGOs supporting Palestine and human rights like Intal, Vrede, Le Space and the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme in Liege have also joined the over 100 organizations supporting his call for freedom. See the list of organizational endorsers and sign the petition here.

The “Free Mustapha” Committee also issued a call for donations to help aid Awad’s legal defense in occupied Palestine and in Belgium.

“We need to raise money…There are no small donations, the smallest one will be a helping hand. We thank you in advance and do not hesitate to share the petition, the page, the press articles and the bank account number:

“Free Mustafa
BE96 7360 5044 3805.
BIC: KRED BE BB ”

 
The committee issued a press release following its meeting with the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Take Action!

You can help build the campaign to free imprisoned artist Mustapha Awad. Please join us by taking the following actions:

Sign on to the statement here as a group or an individual:  https://goo.gl/forms/DhqopQRBo5tNGNZj1

Join the Facebook page –> Free Mustapha Awad الحرية لمصطفى عوض https://www.facebook.com/freemustapha

Donate to the “Free Mustapha” committee legal fund. In Europe, you can send a SEPA Transfer to:
Free Mustafa
BE96 7360 5044 3805.
BIC: KRED BE BB

Take a “Free Mustapha” photo with the poster below and send it to the Committee at free.mustapha2018@gmail.com or submit it to the Facebook page.

Organizational Endorsers

AFPS 63
AFPS Nord-Pas de Calais
AFPS Paris-Sud
Al-Awda, Palestine Right to Return Coalition – NY
American Muslims for Palestine – NY
Amitié Sans Frontières,  Vriendschap Zonder Grenzen
Antwerp for Palestine
Asbl Aljabal
Association Belgo-Palestinienne
Association Charente Palestine Solidarite
Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP)
Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), India
Bacbi: Belgian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
BADIL
BDS Berlin
BDS ULB
BRussells Tribunal
Bruxelles Panthères
Canada Palestine Association-Vancouver
Centre Culturel Arabe en Pays de Liège
Cercle des Étudiants Arabo-Européens de l’ULB
Comité de Vigilance pour la Démocratie en Tunisie
Comité pour une Paix Juste au Proche-Orient
Comite Verviers Palestine
Communauté Palestinienne en Belgique
Communist Party of Belgium
Communist Party (Sweden)
Coup Pour Coup 31
CSC Charleroi-Sambre & Meuse
Dar al Janub – Union for antiracism and peace policy
Diensten en Onderzoek Centrum Palestina (docP)
Een Andere Joodse Stem / Another Jewish Voice
Eglise Protestante Baptise La Fraternité
EuroPalestine
Familles de prisonniers pour la justice (Belgique)
FGTB Wallonie
Filipino Refugees in the Netherlands (FREN)
Freedom Archives
Free Palestine Movement
French Friends of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin
G3W/M3M (belgian NGO)
GAPP (Gents ActiePlatform Palestina)
Greek Front of Resistance and Solidarity with Palestine “Ghassan Kanafani”
Groupe Non-Violent LOUIS LECOIN
GUPS Aix-Marseille
Hand in Hand
Hannah vzw
Independent Jewish Voices – Canada
Inminds Human Rights Group
Intal
International Action Center
IJAN, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS)
Internationalt forum – Middle East group
Investig’Action
ISM-Northern California
Jacksonville Community Action Committee
Jacksonville Palestine Solidarity Network
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Justice Sans Frontières JSF Belgium
Käthe Kollwitz Vredesloop
Labor for Palestine
Le Space
Leuvense Actiegroep Palestina
Ligue des Droits de l’Homme de Liege
Links Ecologisch Forum/Forum Gauche Ecologie
London Palestine Action
Manchester Boycott Israel Group
Maramya ASBL
MCP
MOC de Charleroi-Thuin
Mouvement Citoyen Palestine
National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee
NY4Palestine
NZ Palestine Solidarity Network (New Zealand)
Paix Juste au Proche-Orient Ittre
Palestina Solidariteit
Palestina Solidariteit Herent / 11.11.11-Herent
Palestina Solidariteit Wetteren
Palestine Solidarity Committee – Austin, Texas
Palestine Democratic Forum
Palestinian Rights committee, Albany New York USA
Parallelo Palestina
Party for Socialism and Liberation
Peoples Video Network
Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee
Plate-forme Charleroi-Palestine
Plateforme Palestine Watermael-Boitsfort
Porte-parole du Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine
Presence et Action Culturelles
Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide
Raj’een Dabkeh Group
Samidoun Göteborg
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Secours Rouge Canada
Secours Rouge de Belgique
Solidaris Namur
Solidarity4All
Studenten voor Rechtvaardigheid in Palestina – Amsterdam
Students for Justice in Palestine Houston
Students for Justice in Palestine, Temple University
Students for Justice in Palestine UCSB
Students for Justice in Palestine VUB
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of South Carolina
SUD Solidaires
The Rights Forum
Union générale des femmes palestiniennes en Belgique et au Luxembourg
Union Nationale des Mutualités Socialistes
Union of Palestinian Communities and Institutions – Europe
UPJB | Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Victoria Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
Victory to the Intifada (Manchester)
Vrede vzw
Vriendschap صداقة  
Vrouwen in het Zwart, Vrouwen voor Vrede
V-SB (Flemish Socialist Movement)
vzw Victoria Deluxe
WALPURGIS
Werkgroep Vluchtelingen Gent vzw
Werkgroep Vrede en Ontwikkeling Watermaal-Bosvoorde
WESPAC Foundation


Published on Samidoun 26 August 2018 

A Belgian artist imprisoned by Israel: Free Mustapha Awad!

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

Take Action!
You can help build the campaign to free imprisoned artist Mustapha Awad. Please join us by taking the following actions:

Sign on to the statement here as a group or an individual:  https://goo.gl/forms/DhqopQRBo5tNGNZj1
Join the Facebook page –> Free Mustapha Awad الحرية لمصطفى عوض 
https://www.facebook.com/freemustapha

Share this statement, the action call and the Facebook page with your friends, comrades and fellow supporters of Palestine. The campaign will be issuing more calls for action – sign up to stay involved!


Publié sur Samidoun le 17 août 2018

Financial support (EN)

Signing the petition is very important but we also need your donations. Indeed Mustafa has 2 lawyers one here in Belgium and one to defend him in Israël. So we need to raise money to pay them. There are no small donations, the smallest one will be a helping hand. We thank you in advance and do not hesitate to share the petition, the page, the press articles and the bank account number:

Free Mustafa
BE96 7360 5044 3805.
BIC: KRED BE BB

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

Palestinian dancer from Belgium jailed by Israel

Mustapha Awad (via Facebook)

There is growing concern in Belgium for a Palestinian refugee and dancer who was detained by Israeli authorities as he tried to enter the occupied West Bank from Jordan a month ago.

Mustapha Awad, who was born in Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon, has been granted refugee status and citizenship in Belgium.

For two weeks after his arrest, Awad was not allowed to see a lawyer, according to prisoners solidarity group Samidoun. He was only allowed to see someone from the Belgian consulate on 8 August, after 20 days of interrogation.

According to Samidoun, Awad appeared in court on 16 August, and was then returned to an Israeli interrogation center.

“My client was arrested at a frontier post for belonging to a terrorist organization, something he firmly denies,” Awad’s Belgian lawyer told media last Friday.

The 36-year-old Awad is the co-founder of Raj’een, a Palestinian folk dance group.

“It was his first time going to Palestine to visit the land of his parents. He has never lived there,” the lawyer added.

Belgian state broadcaster RTBF cited Israeli media reports claiming that Awad is affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Israel considers that political faction, along with virtually all other Palestinian political parties to be a “terrorist” organization.

According to RTBF, Awad is due to appear again before an Israeli judge on 3 September.

The Belgian foreign ministry has confirmed Awad’s arrest and said it is “following the situation,” but has given no further details.

Awad’s case is reminiscent of Salah Hamouri, a Palestinian-French human rights defender who has been in Israeli detention for a year without charge or trial.

The French government has done little to secure Hamouri’s freedom.

Activists in Belgium are campaigning for Awad’s release.

A delegation from the Committee to Free Mustapha Awad visited the foreign ministry in Brussels on Wednesday:

They have also launched a Facebook page and a petition that calls on the Belgian government to “assume its responsibilities to protect its citizens against arbitrary arrest and against any form of torture or inhuman treatment.”

Waed Tamimi sentenced

An Israeli military court sentenced Waed Tamimi to 14 months in prison for throwing stones at an Israeli Border Police officer last year and a similar incident a year earlier.

Waed, 21, is the brother of Ahed Tamimi, the teenager recently released after eight months in prison for pushing and shoving an Israeli soldier on the family’s property in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

The siblings’ mother, Nariman, also spent eight months in prison for filming the incident involving Ahed.

As in Ahed’s case, Waed’s sentence was the result of a plea bargain in which he admitted to charges leveled by Israeli occupation forces.

Israel’s military court denies Palestinians basic guarantees of a fair trial and due process and has a conviction rate of nearly 100 percent.

“The court found that stones thrown by Waed Tamimi and others struck a border policeman, who was wearing a helmet, in the head and arm, injuring his arm,” the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

While Palestinians are regularly accused by Israeli military authorities of responding to incursions by occupation forces with stone throwing, Israeli soldiers who injure, maim and kill Palestinians enjoy near-total impunity.

Waed will get credit for time spent in prison since he was seized from his home in an early morning raid by occupation forces in May.

After Israeli soldiers beat and bruised Waed in the course of his arrest, he was taken to a hospital, his father Bassem wrote in a Facebook post at the time.

Arresting journalists

Ali Dar Ali in Israeli military court on 20 August 

Oren Ziv ActiveStills

Also in the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces on 15 August arrested Ali Dar Ali, a reporter with the Palestinian Authority’s Palestine TV.

Israeli forces arrested Dar Ali in a dawn raid on his home in the occupied West Bank village of Burham and confiscated his cell phone and computer.

A spokesperson for the Israeli army told The Times of Israel that Dar Ali was arrested for “incitement” because he filmed and livestreamed Israeli forces as they prepared to demolish a house in the Amari refugee camp near Ramallah.

“Israel is using every legal measure at its disposal, including accusations of incitement, to thwart critical reporting of its policies and activities in the West Bank and keep journalists like Ali Dar Ali in jail,” Sherif Mansour of the Committee to Protect Journalists stated.

“We call on the Israeli authorities to release Ali Dar Ali immediately and let him work freely.”

The military court at Ofer prison where Dar Ali is being held has extended his detention multiple times. It now stands until 4 September.

In June, Israel’s parliament started considering a bill that would punish filming or recording Israeli soldiers and publishing the content with up to 10 years in prison.

Reporters Without Borders has urged rejection of the bill, describing it as part of Israel’s tightening crackdown on journalists and human rights defenders who document abuses against Palestinians.

Dar Ali’s detention is the latest in a series of Israeli arrests of Palestinian journalists.

Israeli occupation forces arrested four Palestinian journalists in the West Bank on 30 July, three of whom have been released on bail.

But on Sunday an Israeli military court halted the release of the fourth, Ala al-Rimawi, following a request from the military prosecutor.

In a statement through his lawyer, al-Rimawi said that Israel’s arrest campaign was aimed at frightening and intimidating Palestinian journalists from doing their jobs and reporting reality.

Al-Rimawi said that it was evident from his interrogation that Israeli authorities consider terms used by journalists such as “martyr,” “occupation,” “confrontation” and “steadfastness” to constitute incitement.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, 18 Palestinian journalists are currently held by Israel.

Prison strike solidarity

Palestinian prisoners and former prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have sent a message of solidarity to incarcerated workers in the United States who launched a nationwide strike on 21 August.

Prison Strike 2018 comes in response to an April incident in which several prisoners died in South Carolina.

“Seven comrades lost their lives when prison officials turned their backs on a riot they provoked,” strike organizers state. “We are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern-day slavery.”

There are more than two million people in American prisons, a 500 percent increase over the last 40 years that is not related to trends in crime.

Mass incarceration policies that enrich private prison firms disproportionately target poor people and people of color, in particular Black men.

“Today, prison workers are some of the most exploited workers in the United States, and the same ruling class that profits from the confiscation of Palestinian land and resources and from the bombing of children in Yemen also profits from the forced labor of prisoners,” the Palestinian prisoners state.

“Your struggle is a workers struggle that is part of our global conflict against the vicious exploitation that our peoples face today.”


Published on August, 22th on The Electronic Intifada 
Author : Ali Abunimah

Press relief – Friday, 17 August 2018

Belgian artist imprisoned by Israel: Free Mustapha!

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