Prisoner Support

Our July 2009 bulletin highlights the plight of political prisoners and prisoners of war.Prisons are an integral part of state systems, and are used to takepolitical leaders and activists from our movements, and control andweaken populations, communities and mass movements that challenge theviolence of States or the arrangements of power within society. Prisonis used to terrorize people, communities, families, populations andmovements. Prisons are a key tool of institutionalized racism—from theUnited States to South Africa to Israel they maintain racial inequalityand punish those who challenge race or class divisions and whoparticipate in acts of survival. Per capita, the United States has thehighest rate of incarceration in the world. Israel incarcerates morepeople per capita than more than half of the countries of the world,with disproportionate numbers of Palestinians from the territoriesoccupied in 1967, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Jews descendingfrom Arab lands.

The current population of the OPT is a bit shy of 4 million. Since the 1967 Israelioccupation of Palestinian territories, over 700,000 Palestinians have beendetained by Israel. As of November 2008, there areapproximately, 9,493 Palestinian political prisoners being held in Israeliprisons and detention centers. 650 of these are administrative detainees, heldwithout charge or trial for indefinite periods of time. 300 of the politicalprisoners are aged 18 and under.  There are 65 Palestinian femalepolitical prisoners, 1 of whom is a mother who gave birth in prison. There remain 38 elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) whoare incarcerated, including one female PLC member.

Inthe United Statesthe prison system targets people around race, ethnicity, country of origin andclass. Many African American activists describe the prison system as a new formof slavery. African Americans represent 12.7% of the US population, 15% of USdrug users (72% of all users are white), 36.8% of those arrested for adrug-related crime, 48.2% of American adults in state and federal prisons andlocal jails, and 42.5% of prisoners under sentence of death.[1]The United States imprisonsAfrican American men at a rate four times greater than the rate ofincarceration for Black men in SouthAfrica.[2]

Prisons are also key features of war, colonization andimperialism-from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib to Jericho in Israel.Israel and the United Statesboth use detention centers and prisons to hold without trial those suspected ofor identified as being at risk for an act of terrorism. From MumiaAbu-Jamal to LeonardPeltier to Ahmad Sa'adat, both use prisons toincarcerate the leaders of liberation movements under false charges or forinvalid charges against acts of collective self-defense. Ezra Nawi, a Jewish citizen of Israel, is currently serving timefor his non-violent resistance. 

The United Statesalso uses detention centers in its criminalization of undocumented immigrantsand as part of the process of deportation. The current US War on Terror usesIslamophobia to justify the targeting of Muslim, Arab, and South and West Asianindividuals, communities and organizations. Many of those serving time havebeen targeted simply for their participation in organizations or religiousinstitutions that are deemed a terrorist threat without any clear evidence ofactual participation in anything remotely connected to harming civilianpopulations. This is the case with EhsanulSadequee (Shifa) whose familycontinues to organize for a fair trial and his release from prison.


Ehsanul Sadequee (Shifa)

On April 17, 2006, 19 year old Ehsanul Sadequee(Shifa), an American born Muslim, was kidnapped from Bangladeshunder the direction of the Bush administration and handed over to the US on allegedcharges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism and currentlyawaiting trial.  Shifa has served overthree years in solidarity confinement without trial or having been convicted onan offense. He has been subjected tophysical abuse, psychological torture, and health ailments have been ignoredand exacerbated by federal prison staff.   More information can be found at Sign thepetition demanding medical care, that Shifa is able to freely practice hisreligion whether he is in prison or not, and reviewing the merits of Shifa'scase and releasing him from prison at

Ahmad Sa'adat

Ahmad Sa'adat, General Secretary of thePopular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and member of the PalestinianLegislative Council, is one of over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners heldin Israeli jails. These political prisoners, men, women and children, areactivists, organizers and political leaders of the Palestinian people.  July 8, over 400 organizations andindividuals sign letter calling for freedom for Ahmad Sa'adat and allPalestinian prisoners. Information about his campaign can be found at'adat is currently facing a serious medical situation, yet is facing medicalneglect and maltreatment by Israeli prison officials. International attention isnecessary to ensure that Sa'adat receives access to proper health care andmedical treatment. To sign a petition that calls upon the prison authoritiesto ensure appropriate medical care and treatment for Sa'adat and allPalestinian political prisoners, go to

Ezra Nawi

Ezra Nawi has been convicted of non-violently protecting the homes ofBedouin Palestinians in the South Hebron hillsfrom being demolished and of "provoking local residents".  Nawi is aJewish citizen of Israelwhose persistent non-violent activity in the area, spanning years, is aimedboth at aiding the local population in its plight to stay on their lands, butalso at exposing the situation in the area to both the Israeli andinternational public eye. Ezra Nawi's efforts have been fruitful in the sensethat the attempt to cleanse the South Mt. Hebron from its Palestinianinhabitants has become a visible, internationally acknowledged issue. Hiscampaign can be found at www.supportezra.netHe will be sentenced this on August 16,2009. A support letter written by Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and NeveGordon that is being circulated by Jewish Voice for Peace can be found andsigned at


Sumoud (steadfastness in Arabic), is apolit
ical prisoner solidarity group established by a group of organizers in Toronto, Canada.Sumoud is part of the CoalitionAgainst Israeli Apartheid network and the Global Campaign for Boycotts,Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli apartheid Regime. They can befound at .

Addameer (Arabicfor conscience) Prisoners Support and Human RightsAssociation is a Palestinian non-governmental, civil institution whichfocuses on human rights issues. Established in 1992 by a group of activistsinterested in human rights, the center's activities focus on offering supportfor Palestinian prisoners, advocating the rights of political prisoners, andworking to end torture through monitoring, legal procedures and solidaritycampaigns. Their multi-lingual web site can be found at

Free GazaMovement. The 21 passengers on a Free Gaza boat headed to Gaza withmedical supplies and toys were kidnapped, held for a week and deported,received an outpouring of support.  Intheir press statement of 1 July 2009, they wrote the following:  "We in the Free Gaza Movement ( implore all thegood people around the world who have working so hard to secure the release ofour friends to "adopt" a Palestinian prisoner. We ask you to learnabout the crisis and take on the cause of an individual prisoner as yourown."  They suggest the followingresources:


[1] Statistical Abstract of the United States (1999), Sourcebook ofCriminal Justice Statistics, (1998),National Household Survey of Drug

[2] Craig Haney, Ph.D., and Philip Zimbardo,Ph.D., "The Past and Future of U.S. Prison Policy: Twenty-fiveYears After the StanfordPrison Experiment," American Psychologist, Vol.53, No. 7 (July 1998), p. 714.





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