10 Years in Prison, 10 Years of Struggle: On the Anniversary of the Abduction of Ahmad Sa'adat
January 15, 2012 is the 10th anniversary of the abduction of Palestinian political leader Ahmad Sa’adat by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah at the hands of the PA intelligence services headed by Tawfiq Tirawi. Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has been imprisoned for ten years – first by PA security, then under US and British guard in a PA prison in Jericho, and now, for the past six years, inside Israeli jails alongside thousands of other Palestinian political prisoners after a siege on Jericho and the kidnapping of Sa’adat and his comrades in 2006.
The kidnapping of Ahmad Sa’adat on January 15, 2002, was emblematic of the deep damage of the crime of “security cooperation” to the Palestinian people and their national cause. “Security cooperation” has meant nothing but attacks on the Palestinian resistance at the behest of Israel, committed by Palestinian Authority hands. The abduction of Ahmad Sa’adat, and his imprisonment – and that of his comrades – in the PA prison in Jericho, under U.S. and British guard, was a clear example of the PA’s status as fundamentally beholden to the interests of Israel, the U.S. and other international powers, at the expense of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance.
The abduction of Ahmad Sa’adat has come to symbolize the thousands of Palestinians who have gone through the jails of the PA because of their loyalty to the Palestinian people, cause and resistance, and the impunity of PA officials – like Tawfiq Tirawi – who continue to find lucrative and influential positions within the Authority despite their shameless acts of betrayal, imprisoning, and abducting Palestinian leaders and activists.
This complicity with Israeli demands for the subjugation and suppression of the Palestinian people led directly to the Israeli assault on Jericho prison in 2006, where Ahmad Sa’adat and his comrades were immobilized in the face of Israeli occupation aggression. Sa’adat had never been charged with a crime throughout his four years in PA prison; his release had been ordered by the PA’s highest court. Yet the PA refused to release Sa’adat, respecting the dictates of Israel, the US and Britain above Palestinian legitimacy; it claimed that it “could not guarantee his safety” outside the prison. Yet it simultaneously guaranteed that he and his comrades could not be safe from Israeli aggression, their locations known at all times by Israel and under the watchful eyes of U.S. and British guards, directly in collusion with Israel. (It should be noted that, forewarned of the attack, the U.S. and British guards absented Jericho prison at the request of the Israeli occupation army.)
Since his second kidnapping, from a PA prison to the heart of the occupation’s jails, Ahmad Sa’adat has remained a leader of the prisoners’ movement. Today, he has spent nearly three full years in isolation at the hands of the occupation. He was an inspiration – and his release from isolation a key demand of the prisoners’ hunger strike that galvanized the Palestinian prisoners’ movement and the prisoners’ cause in October 2011.
Just as Sa’adat’s kidnapping is a symbol of the crime of security cooperation, Sa’adat’s imprisonment in the hands of the occupation is a symbol of the steadfastness of the nearly 5,000 prisoners inside the jails of the occupation – like his fellow prisoners, resisting isolation, refusing rights violations, and not allowing their will and strength to be broken by the actions of the occupation jailers.
Ten years after the abduction of Ahmad Sa’adat, this anniversary is a reminder that we must continue to organize, act, and demand the freedom of Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian political prisoners, and expose the complicity of the U.S., British, Canadian and other international governments in the enforcement of “security cooperation” and the abuse and mass imprisonment of Palestinian political leaders and activists. While the Quartet pushes the Palestinian Authority to return to bogus negotiations with the occupation (while the occupation continues settlement expansion, ethnic cleansing, land confiscation, home demolitions, isolation, solitary confinement, and mass imprisonment), it is urgent that we form an international popular basis of support for the Palestinian people and their activists and leaders inside the jails of the occupation, rather than those complicit with the occupation at the table of negotiations.
1. Picket, protest or call the Israeli embassy or consulate in your location and demand the immediate freedom of Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian political prisoners.
2. Distribute the free downloadable Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat flyer in your community at local events.
3. Write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to exercise their responsibilities and act swiftly to demand that prisoners’ rights are recognized. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at JER_jerusalem@icrc.org, and inform them about the urgent situation of Ahmad Sa’adat. Make it clear that isolation is a human rights violation and a form of torture, and that the ICRC must stand up and play its role to defend prisoners’ rights.
4. Email the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat at email@example.com with announcements, reports and information about your local events, activities and flyer distributions.
WHO IS AHMAD SA’ADAT?
Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was elected to his position in 2001 following the assassination of the previous General Secretary, Abu Ali Mustafa, on August 27, 2001 by a U.S.-made Apache missile shot from an Israeli military helicopter as he sat in his office in Ramallah. PFLP fighters retaliated by assassinating Rehavam Ze’evi, the racist extremist Israeli tourism minister and head of the Moledet party, notorious for his political platform based on the “transfer” or ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, on October 17, 2001.
Sa’adat was abducted by Palestinian Authority security forces after engaging in a meeting with PA officials under false pretenses in February 2002, and was held in the Muqata’ PA presidential building in Ramallah until April 2002, when in an agreement with Israel, the U.S. and Britain, he and four of his comrades were held in the Palestinian Authority’s Jericho prison, under U.S. and British guard.
He remained in the PA jails, without trial or charge, an imprisonment that was internationally condemned, until March 14, 2006, when the prison itself was besieged by the occupation army and he and his comrades were kidnapped. While imprisoned in the PA jail in Jericho, he was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council. Since that time, he has been held in the prisons of the occupation and continually refused to recognize the illegitimate military courts of the Israeli occupation. He was sentenced to thirty years in prison on December 25, 2008 solely for his political activity, and has spent nearly three years in isolation at the present time.
Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat