European parliamentarians demand freedom for Khalida Jarrar, Khitam Saafin, Palestinian prisoners

Photo: GUE/NGL

On 5 July in Strasbourg, Members of European Parliament and Spanish parliamentarians of Izquierda Unida (the United Left and the Communist Party of Spain) came together to stand in solidarity with Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin and other imprisoned Palestinians. MEPs from a number of countries in the GUE/NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left) participated in the solidarity action.

They also expressed their solidarity with Cuba against intensified recent US attacks, demanding an end to the US blockade on Cuba and that the US get out of Guantanamo, the military base on occupied Cuban land where the US has operated a notorious secretive prison camp for nearly 16 years.

Photo: GUE/NGL

The solidarity action in Strasbourg came as the parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine (DPAL) was targeted for attacks by the Israeli state and the pro-Israel, Zionist lobby in Europe, for inviting Palestinian advocates and family members of political prisoners to address a meeting in Strasbourg on 6 July. Despite the attempts to force a cancellation of the hearing, Palestinian lawyer Fadwa Barghouthi, the wife of Marwan Barghouthi and chair of the Campaign to Free Marwan Barghouthi, and Sumoud Sa’adat, of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and the daughter of Ahmad Sa’adat, addressed the parliamentary session.

Neoklis Sylikiotis, Chair of DPAL and a Member of European Parliment from Cyprus affiliated with AKEL, participated in the solidarity stand for Jarrar and Saafin. He issued a strongly worded statement condemning the attempts to silence the voices of Palestinian prisoners and their families. “Equating the voice of family members with a ‘voice for terror’ is insulting and defamatory to these persons fighting for the basic rights of their imprisoned relatives,” Sylikiotis said. “Such a spurious accusation flies in the face of the fact that it is Israel that is breaking international law and completely disrespecting human rights.”

The attacks on the session underlined the importance which is being given internationally to suppressing support for the Palestinian prisoners by Zionist organizations and the Israeli state as international solidarity grows with the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

Photo: GUE/NGL

Member of European Parliament Angela Vallina of Izquierda Unida issued a statement condemning the detention on Sunday, 2 July of Jarrar and Saafin, two of the most prominent Palestinian women leaders. Jarrar is a national leader, a parliamentarian and a leftist, feminist advocate for Palestinian political prisoners. She is the Vice-Chair of the Board and former Executive Director of Addameer. Khitam Saafin is the president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and chair of the Global Women’s March (MMF/MMM) Palestine.

Vallina called on EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and the EU’s member states to put a stop to the preferential agreement – the EU/Israel Association Agreement – amid these new violations. “Once again, the occupying forces of the State of Israel have conducted an operation to arrest Palestinian activists and parliamentarians. This time they arrested Khalida Jarrar, leader of the Palestinian parliamentary Prisoners’ Commission, and the leading representative of the women’s movement, Khitam Saafin. This follows shortly on the first anniversary of the release of the former, who was previously arrested in 2015. It is a new and illegitimate provocation by a state that is a preferred partner of the EU, something unacceptable,” said Vallina.

Photo: GUE/NGL

Vallina met Jarrar during two visits to Palestine – in September 2014 with a GUE/NGL delegation and in February 2017 with an official parliamentary DPAL delegation.

Meanwhile, in the Spanish parliament, Izquierda Unida deputy Miguel Angel Bustamante Martin, who represents Seville in Congress, raised an official parliamentary question to the Spanish government regarding the situation of Palestinian prisoners. He filed the question on 5 July in response to the detention of Jarrar, Saafin and fellow Palestinian prisoners, including Ihab Massoud, arrested on the same night just six months after heis release from Israeli prisons.

Bustamante asked the government what actions it will take in its relations with Israel regarding the detention of Jarrar, Saafin, Massoud and other Palestinian prisoners, and called for a change in government policy in light of ongoing Israeli repression in occupies Palestine.

Irish Member of European Parliament for Sinn Fein Martina Anderson, herself a former political prisoner, joined her GUE/NGL colleagues in support of Jarrar, Saafin and fellow Palestinian prisoners. “I travelled to Palestine in February of last year and met with Khalida Jarrar and heard first-hand how prisoners are confined to tiny cells, subjected to physical and verbal abuse and how prisoners are often chained to chairs in dark rooms for long periods of time…Palestinian prisoners have to endure their rights being abused. They are subject to trial by military courts; they are tortured and placed in isolation,” said Anderson, urging Jarrar’s immediate release.

Photo: GUE/NGL