British Members of Parliament from diverse political parties have signed on to a parliamentary motion calling on the Israeli occupation to release imprisoned Palestinian political leader and parliamentarian, Marwan Barghouthi, who has been jailed for the past 14 years, reported the campaign to Free Marwan Barghouthi and All Political Prisoners on Friday, 15 April.
The statement calls for his release so that he can “play a part in the process of reconciliation, unification and negotiation that will be needed before Palestine achieves its independence,” and cites the precedent of South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was released from prison so he could take part in negotiations for majority rule, and India, where Gandhi and Nehru were released by the British so they could take part in negotiations for independence.
The parliamentary motion was tabled by Tommy Sheppard of the Scottish National Party and its signatories include the Conservative chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Crispin Blunt, and the current Father of the House of Commons Sir Gerald Kaufman.
Barghouthi, a prominent Fateh leader, has spent a total of 20 years inside Israeli prisons and he has been for many years now in Cell 28 in Hadarim prison. He has regular visits from his wife Fadwa, but is allowed very little other contact with the outside world.
Eight winners of the Nobel peace prize have signed the “Robben Island declaration” calling for his release, including President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the Argentinian Nobel laureate Adolfo Esquivel has nominated him for the Nobel peace prize this year.
Like other prominent imprisoned Palestinian political leaders such as Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Barghouthi refused to recognize the legitimacy of Israeli military courts. Despite Barghouthi’s insistence outside the military courts that his role in Fateh is political in nature, he was imprisoned for armed resistance actions taken by Fateh’s armed wing in the second Intifada.