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Palestinians present testimonies in Morocco

Jan. 22, 2011 9:45 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 24, 2011 10:06 A.M.)
By Muhammad Al-Lahham

RABAT, Morocco (Ma'an) -- Palestinians presented testimonies on Saturday to rights organizations, politicians and lawyers at a conference in Morocco to support political prisoners held in Israeli jails.

The 3-day event, staged in Rabat, was an important opportunity to for supporters of Palestinian detainees to reach an international audience, Palestinian Authority Prisoners' Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe said.

Qaraqe said he hoped to form an international coalition of legal experts and media workers to make public Israel's violations of human rights.

Regarding delegations present at the forum, Qaraqe said Arab participation was good but he wished it were better.

The interaction of the Arab League and the United Nations was positive, he said.

The issue of Palestinian political prisoners was the most urgent humanitarian concern in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the minister said.

He continued that Palestinian prisoners in Israel were searching for protection from a country which failed to respect international conventions, including those it has ratified.

Ex-detainee and Gaza resident Nedal As-Sarfiti attended the conference. Israeli forces destroyed his home and killed two of his children, and one of his remaining children is in prison in Israel.

"I am happy with this concern and the excellent conference, which is full of sympathy and support for our children," he said.

He said he hoped there would be further similar events to convey the humanitarian urgency of the Palestinian issue, and to keep the morale of prisoners high.

Moroccan activist Khadijah Barakat, a member of the Moroccan society to support Palestinians, said the conference was a "historic event and a step to freedom."

Barakat said she was particularly struck by the strong testimonies presented by ex-detainees on the circumstances of their arrests, the effect on their families, and their stories of friends who died in Israeli jails.

She called on Arab organizations to form committees to lobby and advocate for the political prisoners who she said were paying a heavy price for their belief in justice.

Palestinian People's Party official Walid Al-Awad said Palestinian factions were working hard to draw attention to the plight of prisoners detained in Israel, and to remind the international community that Palestinian prisoners were victims of Israel's inhumane policies.
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