This article was written for the Tattooed Football blog.
As the football season draws to a close most of us are sitting back waiting for a summer of football to begin. With less than a month now until Euro 2012 kicks off, football fans across the globe are gearing up for the tournament, stocking up the fridge and pinning up the fixture list. Here in Israel and Palestine it is no exception. I have already sorted out front row seats for the England/France opener down the local (coffee shop)! There is however one exception, one guy who isn’t joining in this build up. His name is Mahmoud al-Sarsak who is, or at least I should say was, a member of the Palestinian football team.
Mahmoud is currently being held under Israel’s ‘Unlawful Combatant Law’ (a form of administrative detention – held without trial) and has been on hunger strike since the 22nd March 2012 in protest. Mohmoud’s detention is not up for renewal until 22nd August 2012. The insightful amongst you might well notice that this is well after the championships. The even more insightful amongst you might have counted up the days in your head and worked out that this guy might not even be alive come the championships. Amnesty International report that his health is “deteriorating”. The longest ever Palestinian hunger strike is 77 days – this is one record no one wants to see him break but he is coming pretty close. How much longer he can hold on for is debatable but I would count it in days not weeks.
You might well be thinking at this point “Bit of shitter, but there is f*** all I can do about it” (note the compulsory swear words proceeding any badly thought out point on the terraces). Well, I have good news for you. There are a few people over here that have the power to stop all this. One of them is a chap called Ehud Barak – he’s the Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and also the Defence Minister (in other words he holds a bit of sway). What we are asking is pretty simple. We would like him to firstly ensure Mahmoud is given full and specialised medical care in a hospital suitable to provide such care. And secondly to ensure that Mahmoud is either released or charged with internationally recognizable criminal offences and brought to trial in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards (jargon I know but it’s important – trust me). Not big asks. If you have a chance, get the quill out and put these point onto paper and send them to:
Ministry of Defence
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
I am sure he would love to hear from you.
Mahmoud is not only a footballer, but a relative and a bloody human being. I find it disgusting that someone could be held for three years without charge or trial. All it will cost you is a few minutes (keep it short) and few pence down the post office.
If you are really keen you can find loads more information here. If you are really really keen send this blog onto your mates. It is mad to think, but you have the power to make a difference and maybe save a guys life.