URGENT CALL TO ACTION
Former Palestinian prisoner Omar Nayef Zayed is being pursued for extradition from Bulgaria by the Israeli state. Despite a raid on his home and the one-day arrest of his son, Omar has not yet been arrested by the Bulgarian police. Local and international pressure and action is necessary to call on Bulgaria to refuse to extradite Omar to Israel. Click here to take action on Omar’s case!
Zayed, 52, was born in Jenin, in Palestine’s West Bank. He was arrested by occupation forces in May 1986 and sentenced to life imprisonment. After a 40 day hunger strike in 1990, he was transferred to a hospital in Bethlehem where he escaped in May, disappeared and left Palestine.
In 1994, he traveled to Bulgaria. Omar married a Bulgarian citizen and has Bulgarian children; he runs a Palestinian grocery and is well-known in the Palestinian community of Sofia.
On Tuesday, 15 December, the Israeli embassy sent a letter to the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice demanding the extradition of Omar Nayef Zayed, labeling him a “fugitive from justice.”
Omar’s home was raided on Thursday, 17 December; he was not home and his son was arrested for one day. The Bulgarian prosecutor has been quoted in Arabic media as calling for his imprisonment and quick extradition to Tel Aviv.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network emphasizes that this is a political attack on former Palestinian prisoners. It should not be seen as an individual case only, but an attempt by the Israeli state to persecute former Palestinian prisoners and invade Palestinian communities throughout Europe. Like all Palestinian prisoners, Omar’s case is a political case and not a “criminal case.” Extraditions for political offenses are not legitimate and should be denied.
In addition, Omar would have been freed under 1993 under the Oslo accords, which, along with subsequent agreements between the PLO leadership and the Israeli state, should have rendered his imprisonment null and void.
“The persecution of Omar Nayef Zayed is a further campaign to criminalize Palestinians and Palestinian communities outside of Palestine. It is a threat to Palestinians throughout Europe and it is urgent that Bulgaria refuse the demand to extradite Omar,” said Charlotte Kates, coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. “We need to organize, get on the streets and make our voices heard for justice for Omar.”
Omar Nayef Zayed is a beloved community leader, a former Palestinian prisoner who deserves the support of people around the world. We urge immediate action to defend Omar and demand that any attempts by Bulgaria to arrest, pursue, criminalize or extradite Omar be dropped.
1. Click here to send an urgent letter to the Bulgarian Minister of Justice and Minister of Foreign Affairs and demand the end of all charges and attempts to extradite Omar Nayef Zayed. Call on the Bulgarian officials to make an official statement that they will not extradite Omar to Israel.
2. Send a delegation to or a protest outside your local Bulgarian embassy or consulate to demand that Omar Nayef Zayed not be extradited. A list of Bulgarian embassies is available here. Please email Samidoun at firstname.lastname@example.org to inform us of your events and actions.
3. Phone the Bulgarian embassy or consulate in your country. Inform them that you are calling about the case of Omar Nayef Zayed, and that he is a former Palestinian political prisoner. His case is a political case and he should not be extradited to Israel. Phone numbers available here: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/bulgaria. Common numbers include: Washington, DC: 202 387 0174; London: +44 20 7581 3144; Ottawa: +1 613 789 3215; EU Mission in Brussels: +32 2 2358300
Dear Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov and Justice Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva,
I am writing today with deep concern about the case of Omar Nayef Zayed. Omar has lived in Bulgaria for 22 years, married with a Bulgarian wife and children. He is a well-known and respected long-time member of the Palestinian community of Sofia.
He is a former Palestinian political prisoner held in Israeli jails who escaped from Israeli prisons in 1990. Israel has requested that Bulgaria extradite Omar, despite the fact that as a Palestinian prisoner his case is political and not a criminal matter subject to extradition.
In addition, given that the Oslo Accords in 1993 ended the imprisonment of Palestinians held at the time, terminating their cases, Omar would have been free since before he entered Bulgaria in the first place and his case has been at an end for over 20 years.
I am writing to call on you and the Republic of Bulgaria to deny this request for extradition and end all attempts to pursue or arrest Omar Nayef Zayed.