Free Ahmad Sa'adat and his Comrades From Jericho Prison
Ahmad Sa'adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), has been detained without charges by the Palestinian Authority since January 12, 2002. Since that date, Sa'adat has been held prisoner in violation of Palestinian and international law, without ever being charged with or convicted of any crime. He is a political prisoner in the fullest sense of the term, imprisoned at the request of the United States, Great Britain and Israel for his activity and leadership in the PFLP.
Sa'adat was joined as a political prisoner by four of his comrades in the PFLP (Hamdi Quran, Basel Al-Asmar, Majdi Rimawi and Ahed Gholmi) on April 25, 2002, when the four were tried in an impromptu military court of the Palestinian Authorityas demanded by the United States and Great Britain as a condition for the end of Israel's siege of the Muqataa, the presidential palace of the Palestinian Authority (PA). With Israeli tanks directly outside the Muqataa, Quran, Al-Asmar, Rimawi and Gholmi were tried and sentenced for the December 2001 assassination of extremist Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi. Despite their civilian status, the four were tried before a military court presided over by Brigadier-General Ribhi Arafat, who has no legal standing to act as a judge. They were not allowed to have attorneys or proper legal defense in a trial that took a total of two hours. No evidence, no confessions and no statements were received in order to convict the four; all were found guilty and the verdicts immediately ratified by PA President Yasser Arafat, and the four were given no right to appeal the verdicts.
After the sentencing, the four were transferred, with the uncharged and untried Ahmad Sa'adat, to Jericho Prison, ostensibly under the control of the PA, but subject to the guardianship of United States and British forces. The director of the US/British "supervision" of the prisoners at Jericho Prison formerly ran the infamous Maze Detention Center for Britain in the North of Ireland. The prisoners are not subject to Palestinian sovereignty and authority, but rather to the conditions and demands of the United States and Great Britain. The flagrant violations of both Palestinian and international law embodied in the detention of Sa'adat and his comrades highlight the deep hypocrisy in US/British calls for "reform" of the PA. Their "reforms" have nothing to do with democracy or respect for law, and everything to do with splitting and repressing the Palestinian national struggle for liberation and self-determination. The illegal imprisonment of Sa'adat and his comrades is part and parcel of the international strategy of the "war on terror," whereby the United States and Great Britain wage illegal and inhumane wars, violate national sovereignty and self-determination, and incarcerate and repress political prisoners in order to wage a war on popular resistance to their designs upon the Middle East and the world.
Sa'adat and his comrades are held under intolerable conditions in Jericho Prisonconditions that have steadily worsened. They have been secluded from one another and not allowed to communicate. They have been denied access to newspapers and books, visits from family and others, telephone use, and daily exercise outside their prison cells. Water and electricity in their cells have been turned off, and numerous other punitive measures have been implemented against them. In response, Sa'adat and his comrades have engaged in two hunger strikes, demanding an end to inhumane treatment and their immediate release.
Their imprisonment continues despite the fact that the Palestinian High Court of Justice, the highest Palestinian judicial body, has ruled that Sa'adat should be released immediately; despite the fact that one of the detainees, Ahed Gholmi, has fully completed his one-year sentence and remains imprisoned; despite the fact that numerous Palestinian and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have called for the release of Sa'adat and the implementation of Palestinian and international law; and despite the fact that all of the prisoners are being held as political prisoners, illegally detained and illegally tried and convictedin violation of Palestinian and international law, and under the orders of the United States and Great Britain.
The imprisonment of Sa'adat and his comrades is an affront to international law, human rights and justice. It is an attack on the ability of Palestinians to organize and resist occupation and oppression, and has resulted in the institution of an illegal prison regimein direct contravention of Palestinian sovereignty.
We call upon the Palestinian Authority to recognize the decision of the Palestinian High Court of Justice and the guidelines of Palestinian and international law, and immediately release Sa'adat and his comrades. Neither the United States, Great Britain, nor Israel have the right to play any role in the administration of Palestinian justice, and their involvement in demanding and supporting the imprisonment of Sa'adat and his comrades makes clear that their "war on terror" and their proposals for Palestinian "reforms" bear no commonality with international law, democracy or justice. Sa'adat and his comrades are political prisoners of the US-led "war on terror, and they remain imprisoned only for their resistance to the occupation and oppression that daily brutalize Palestinians. The PA should not aid the suppression of Palestinian political activity and leadership, and should implement its own laws by immediately releasing Ahmad Sa'adat and his comrades.
In the present situation, where a unified national leadership embracing all Palestinian factions and sectors is urgently needed, it is imperative that the abuse of human rights, embodied in the imprisonment of Ahmad Sa'adat and his comrades, end immediately.
Free Ahmad Sa'adat and his Comrades from Jericho Prison!