#FreeMahmoud: Palestinian human rights defender Mahmoud Nawajaa is FREE!
Today, Palestinian human rights defender and General Coordinator of the BDS Movement, Mahmoud Nawajaa, was released by an Israeli military court, after 19 days of illegal detention without charges. Since his arrest on July 30, the Israeli internal security Shin Bet has failed to present any formal charges against him.
His release comes on the back of an intensive global campaign to pressure Israel to free him. Palestinian and international civil society organisations like the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), Front Line Defenders, Amnesty International and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) called and campaigned for his release and for the protection of human rights defenders, including BDS activists, from prosecution and persecution.
In Ireland this campaign saw the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign mobilise supporters to intensively lobby the government, generate media coverage by holding a solidarity protest outside the Irish parliament, and organise an open letter signed by 18 leading human rights and Palestine solidarity organistion that was published in the Irish Times. We thank all who took action to stand with Mahmoud.
In his first reaction after being released, Mahmoud Nawajaa said:
“Pressure works. Sustained global pressure works even better. I thank Addameer for defending me against this military ‘justice’ system that is part and parcel of the apartheid and colonial regime against our people.
“I am deeply grateful to all those who pressured apartheid Israel to release me. From Europe and the Arab world, to Southern Africa, Latin America, North America and Asia, your solidarity gave me strength and kept alive my hope to be reunified with my loving family and my inspiring wider BDS family.
“I also thank Palestinian and international human rights organizations and networks, particularly the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), Front Line Defenders, Amnesty International and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), who have played a critical role in defending me as a human rights defender despite the fabricated ‘suspicions’ and lies propagated by apartheid Israel against me.
“BDS is an idea, and an effective, morally-consistent, anti-racist strategy of peaceful resistance and solidarity. They cannot break us because they cannot crush an idea or counter our strategy, despite all the financial, intelligence, political, diplomatic and propaganda resources they’ve invested in their war of repression against BDS.
“Let’s intensify our BDS campaigns to bring to an end this system of apartheid and oppression and free all 4,700 Palestinian prisoners. With our global networks of mutual solidarity with movements for Indigenous, racial, social, gender and climate justice, we can and we shall achieve freedom, justice and equality for our people and for all oppressed communities.”
In its statement calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Nawajaa, Amnesty International exposed attempts in the West, coordinated with Israel, to suppress BDS activism. It said:
“Advocating for boycotts, divestment and sanctions is a form of non-violent advocacy and of free expression that must be protected. Advocates of boycotts should be allowed to express their views freely and take forward their campaigns without harassment, threats of prosecution or criminalization, or other measures that violate the right to freedom of expression.”
Mahmoud Nawajaa’s arrest came at a time when Palestinian civil society is calling for effective international accountability measures, including lawful and targeted sanctions, to prevent Israel’s planned de jure annexation and to stop its apartheid regime and ongoing, de facto annexation.
As part of the international campaign to #FreeMahmoud, last Tuesday the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society, organized two protest rallies in Ramallah and Gaza in front of diplomatic missions of Germany, the current president of the EU Council. More than 150 representatives of Palestinian mass movements, trade unions, political parties and BDS activists joined the rallies, demanding that EU apply concrete pressure on Israel to release Nawajaa and respect Palestinian rights under international law.