Suha Barghouti and Ahmad Qatamesh (photo courtesy of Suha Barghouti)
The Palestinian prisoner support network Samidoun announced that Palestinian writer and academic Ahmad Qatamesh was released on 26 December after two and a half years in Israeli jails.
Qatamesh was held under administrative detention, a legal system derived from British colonial law under which the Israeli state holds prisoners without charge for indefinite periods of time. As reported on The Electronic Intifada, Qatamesh was taken from his home in Al-Bireh in the occupied West Bank at gunpoint in April 2011.
Following the public expression of hope by his family earlier in 2013, Qatamesh was taken to Salem checkpoint and released to his family. His wife, Suha Barghouti, a board member of the prisoner support organization Addameer, and daughter Hanin, a student in Cairo, have run a high-profile campaign for his release since 2011.
Ahmad Qatamesh was listed as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, the human rights organization which stated that it believed him to be held “to deter political activities by other Palestinian left-wing activists” and “solely for expressing non-violent political beliefs.”
A conference motion passed by Britain’s largest academic trade union in 2011 also called for Qatamesh’s release:
Congress expresses its condemnation of this fundamental breach of human rights, instructs the General Secretary to raise the matter urgently with the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] and the Israeli Embassy, and agrees to circulate the Amnesty appeal for Dr. Qatamesh to all members, urging them to write to MPs [Members of Parliament] and the Israeli embassy calling for Qatamesh to be either released or charged and given a fair trial.
A political science professor at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, Qatamesh wrote about the years he spent in Israeli detention during the 1990s in his book I Shall Not Wear Your Tarbush (a tarbush is a fez hat). During that incarceration, the book describes, he was subjected to torture. According to his family, during this period of detention members of Qatamesh’s family had been repeatedly denied visiting orders and other contacts with him.