European officials call to release prisoners in the Middle East over coronavirus pandemic

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Editor’s Note: The following is a statement from the Skyline International Foundation. Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases and statements from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues.

Ten members of parliament from various European countries such as Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom have called on governments of the Middle East to release prisoners of conscience, where thousands of political prisoners are held in countries such as Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

The petition, published by the Danish Parliament website, was launched by Skyline International, a Sweden-based human rights organization. It reads, “We, the undersigned members of parliaments, call on our governments and the European Union to pressure governments in the Middle East to release political prisoners whose lives are at risk following the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic.”

The petition noted that tens of thousands of political prisoners are held in the Middle East, such as award-winning Ahmad Mansour, a prominent UAE human rights activist, sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Lujeen Alhathloul, a Saudi-women rights activist.

The petition welcomed the announcement of Bahrain of issuing a decree pardoning 901 prisoners and Iran’s release of 85,000 inmates over the outbreak of COVID-19 and Egypt’s releasing 15 political prisoners.

Skyline International noted that tens of thousands of political prisoners are still in jail in these countries, calling for their immediate release.

“The conditions of prisoners in the Middle East raise serious concerns. Leaked photos have shown hundreds of them stockpiled on top of each other in Egypt. While in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, prisoners get no family visits and they rarely get to see their lawyers. Not only this, prisoners have passed away in Egyptian and Saudi prisoners due to the lack of medical care and many infectious skin diseases have spread among them,” Skyline international continued as saying.

The petition called for:

“Releasing all political prisoners in the Middle East in light of the spread of the novel Coronavirus. Providing political prisoners with the needed protection and medical care to make sure their lives are valued equally.

Ending the policy of detaining people and activists in the Middle East over their political opinions. Sharing information and data about the spread of Coronavirus in prisons in the Middle East in a transparent manner.”


Baroness Meacher (British House of Lords)
David Alton (British House of Lords)
Margrete Auken (Member of the European Parliament)
Salima Yenbou (Member of the European Parliament)
Thomas Hammarberg (Swedish MP)
Baroness (Ruth) Lister of Burtersett (British House of Lords)
Janet Daby MP (British House of Commons)
Rasmus Nordqvist (Member of the Danish Parliament)
Håkan Svenneling (Member of Parliament, Swedish Left Party)
Yasmine Posio (Members of Parliament, Swedish Left Party)

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Related: “Israel Blocks Coronavirus Respirators, Aid, to Gaza until Remains of 2 Israeli Invaders are Returned” Middle East Monitor, April 6, 2020 by Motasem A. Dalloul “In response to a humanitarian appeal launched by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza to obtain $23 million in urgent aid, in addition to medicine and medical equipment including 250 respirators in order to deal with the coronavirus in the besieged enclave, Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett… Read more » “Amid Coronavirus Fears, Israel tells Palestinian prisoners, ‘Use your socks to make masks,’ as neglect continues” Middle East Monitor, April 4/2020 “Within the next few days, Palestinian prisoners held by Israel may be hit by the coronavirus pandemic, causing major unrest in the prisons. This is the reality facing prison staff and their prisoners at a time when governments around the world and international organisations are trying to overcome the virus and failing. “The… Read more »

How about prisoners in the US? How about prisoners at Rikers Island, where they don’t even have soap? Many haven’t been convicted of anything. They’re awaiting trial, and couldn’t afford bail. And some are 80- and 90-year olds.
Andrew Cuomo has become an icon. I’ve heard that he’s on t-shirts. He can do this!

“The goals of the Palestinians are getting more removed by the day.”

Hardly “removed.” Indeed, as is blatantly obvious, increasingly urgent and supported by hard won international humanitarian law, e.g., the UN Charter, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Like Barghouthi telling his peeps he’s not a hypocrite to advise boycotting Arabs to NOT boycott any Israel vaccine , take it, get better
And continue the fight against the Zionist entity. I believe it’s called tactical hypocrisy which the IDF could easily quash as any harmful enterprise.

Still waiting for something brilliant to come from these BDS flunkies. So far it’s been farce and folly.