|Palestinian football star in terminal hunger strike|
A letter signed by Eric Cantona calling for the release of Palestinian footballer, Mahmoud Sarsak has been sent to Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and UEFA President Michel Platini.
The letter read as follows:
We are all shocked at the racist chanting at football matches in Poland and Ukraine where Euro 2012 is being played. Footballing bodies and politicians have been outspoken in their condemnation. Indeed some government officials are boycotting group stage matches in Ukraine because of perceived human rights abuses in that country.
So why are these same groups silent when Israel is to host the U.E.F.A. Under 21s competition in 2013? Racism, human rights abuses and gross violations of international law are daily occurrences in that country.
Israeli government ministers respond to mob attacks on black refugees by denouncing them as 'infiltrators' and calling for them to be imprisoned in military camps.
Israeli jails house around 4,000 Palestinian political prisoners, more than 300 of them "administrative detainees" held without charge or trial. One of these is a footballer from Gaza, Mahmoud Sarsak, aged 25. He has been imprisoned for nearly three years. No charge, no trial. In desperation, he has been on hunger strike for more than 80 days and is now close to death. He, and all victims of abuse by the Israeli state, need our support.
It is time to end Israel's impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states.'
Signed (in personal capacity):
Noam Chomsky, Professor MIT, USA
John Dugard, Former Special Rapporteur of UN on Palestine, South Africa
Trevor Griffiths, Writer, UK
Paul Laverty, Screenwriter, UK
Ken Loach, Filmmaker, UK
Miriam Margolyes OBE, Actor, UK
John Pilger, Journalist, author, film maker, Australia
Ahdaf Soueif, Writer, UK
Michael Mansfield QC, UK
The letter was coordinated by the Red Card Israeli Apartheid Campaign. Shamiul Joarder said "it is great to have a football legends Eric Cantona and Frédéric Kanouté join the call from cultural and academic figures in support of Sarsak." Kanouté tweeted his support saying to "Give Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak a fair trial or release him."
Mr. Joarder went on to say ''We also welcome the support from FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Show Racism the Red Card both coming days after the World Professional Football Association FIFPro expressed concern for Sarsak last week by demanding that he be released from prison. We are hoping the pressure continues to grow to release Mahmoud as time is not on his side.'
FOAA has some more details for people wanting to join the campaign in the UK. More information at Red Card to Apartheid.
While the European Cup is going on in Poland, Palestinian national team's star Mahmoud Sarsak faces imminent death as he struggles nonviolently against the arbitrariness of detention without charges (and for no reason at all) to which he was submitted when he traveled through his own country.