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

Photo: “Free Mustapha” Committee delegation to the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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.

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.

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

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.

Gallery of the “Free Mustapha” committee photos:

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

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 :

Take Action!

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

  1. Sign on to the statement here as a group or an individual:
  2. Join the Facebook page –> Free Mustapha Awad الحرية لمصطفى عوض
  3. Donate to the “Free Mustapha” committee legal fund. In Europe, you can send a SEPA Transfer to:
    Free Mustafa
    BE96 7360 5044 3805.
  4. Take a “Free Mustapha” photo with the poster below and send it to the Committee at 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
  • BDS Berlin
  • 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
  • Werkgroep Vluchtelingen Gent vzw
  • Werkgroep Vrede en Ontwikkeling Watermaal-Bosvoorde
  • WESPAC Foundation