On 24 August, Samidoun was present at the press conference launching the Free Amin Abu Rashed campaign in the Netherlands. Amin Abu Rashed is a Palestinian community leader and activist who has been detained by the Dutch authorities since 22 June for his humanitarian work in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation and return. In this article we introduce Amin and present an overview of his case.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network stands in full solidarity with Amin Abu Rashed and calls for his immediate release from Dutch prison and all charges to be dropped. We urge all Palestinian and progressive organizations to support Amin and join the campaign for his release. Please reach out to the Free Amin Abu Rashed campaign through https://www.facebook.com/Palestijnsegemeenschap.nl or the spokesperson via WhatsApp +31638496427.
Who is Amin?
Amin Abu Rashed is a prominent and respected Palestinian community leader and organizer, born in Beirut in 1967. He was active for the Palestinian cause and lost his right arm during the Lebanese civil war. In 1992 he moved to the Netherlands and received asylum. Amin has been living in the Netherlands ever since. He is married to Umm Ibrahim, with whom he has two daughters.
During the last thirty years, Amin became one of the most active people in the Palestinian movement in the Netherlands, through various community organizations and foundations, such as the Palestijnse Gemeenschap in Nederland (“Palestinian Community in the Netherlands”) and het Palestijnse Huis (“the Palestinian House”). These organizations organize and empower Palestinians in the Netherlands, organize political actions and demonstrations for the liberation of Palestine, and support their people in refugee camps in Palestine and the region through humanitarian aid. He also has a long history of working to support international solidarity with Palestine, especially through the Freedom Flotilla project of sailing boats to Gaza to break the siege.
He also serves as president of the Palestinians in Europe Conference, which most recently drew thousands of people to attend its May 2023 conference in Malmö, Sweden. The conference was attacked bitterly by Zionist forces, who attempted to coerce politicians, including those with a declared position in support of Palestine, to boycott the conference, or to prevent the conference from taking place. This came alongside attacks by the Palestinian Authority on the conference and the work to organize Palestinians in Europe. In a sharp rebuke to all of these propaganda efforts, the conference was a major success in mobilizing the Palestinian community around a message of clear commitment to the right to return on the road to the liberation of Palestine.
As Samidoun, we have and will always cherish our relationship with Amin Abu Rashed and the organizations he is a board member of. These organizations play an important role in the Palestinian movement, both in the Netherlands, in Palestine and in various other countries. It is exactly this work, community organizing, political actions and humanitarian aid, that the Dutch state is trying to undermine by arresting Amin.
The public prosecutor has branded Amin as a “sponsor of terrorism,” while he is organizing for the return and liberation of his people and their homeland. That is why this is not only an attack on Amin, but an attack on the Palestinian movement in the Netherlands and internationally. Furthermore, it is an attack on all progressive and revolutionary movements, especially those of diaspora communities, that are being threatened in their right to support movements that go against the interests of the Dutch state.
We should note that the public prosecutor used “newspaper articles about a Hamas fundraiser in Europe” as reason to start their investigation. As a result of this, Zionist media are claiming responsibility for their role in his arrest. Zionist media in the Netherlands, Israel and internationally, have been waging a slanderous, racist and ableist campaign against Amin for decades. They have attempted for over 20 years to criminalize him and his work for justice, freedom and humanitarian support for Palestine. It is particularly disturbing that the public prosecutor is citing “media” reports as a reason to arrest, detain and imprison Amin Abu Rashed, especially as these smear campaigns are routinely used by Zionist organizations to target all organizations and activists supporting Palestine that they perceive as presenting a significant challenge.
In the Netherlands, politicians from right-wing and Christian fundamentalist parties have brought this Zionist propaganda into parliament over the years. These attacks against Amin escalated dramatically in May earlier this year, around the European Palestinians Conference held in Malmö, Sweden, of which he is the chairperson, which drew thousands of participants in defiance of the smear campaign against it.
Amin Abu Rashed is currently being held in remand in Sittard prison, a three hour drive from his family home close to Rotterdam. It is important to note his medical situation. He is an older man, with high blood pressure, and is limited in his mobility as he has only his left arm. Two weeks ago, Amin had a serious wound on his foot, which only received the necessary medical attention the day before the press conference.
His lawyers have requested both for Amin to be transferred closer to his family home, and to be released from remand altogether. It is unclear by which pretext the Dutch state has been able to hold him in pretrial detention, which hinders his ability to participate actively in his own defense or speak about his case. He should be able to prepare for his legal defense in freedom, with free access to all information, his lawyers, his family, colleagues and friends.
As Samidoun Palestinian Political Prisoner Solidarity Network we demand the immediate release of Amin Abu Rashed and that all charges against him be dropped. Amin is a respected community leader and organizer, who actively supports his people in social, political and humanitarian ways. We call upon all Palestinian- and solidarity organizations to stand together in defense of Amin and the right to organize for Palestinian liberation.
Amin Abu Rashed’s first public court hearing will take place 4 October 2023 at the courtroom in Rotterdam. We call upon all Palestinians and supporters to join this hearing and show support for Amin and his family.
For updates, please also follow:
- Palestijnse Gemeenschap – https://www.facebook.com/Palestijnsegemeenschap.nl
- European Palestinian Information Center EPAL- https://www.facebook.com/TheEuropeanPalestinianMediaCenter