Women and men across Europe marked International Women’s Day on 8 March by holding vigils to remember the 37 Palestinian female political prisoners currently incarcerated in Israeli jails. They condemned the cruel and discriminatory treatment that Palestinian female prisoners and detainees are subjected to during their arrest, interrogation and in prison, including sexual harassment, psychological and physical punishment and humiliation. In Geneva a special side event was held during the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council, with a panel discussion that included Soha Bechara, a former political prisoner, from Lebanon. The panelists, as well as the audience, were noticeably moved by a video that was shown of Majeda Fidda, a former Palestinian female political prisoner who was held in administrative detention for a year.
, Association France Palestine Solidarité and Women in Black held a vigil
in Paris with photos and profiles of each female prisoner, and encouraged passersby to sign a petition calling for the release of all these women. Other French solidarity groups held similar vigils in cities across France.
The events were announced on two French radios. In Poland
the Polish Solidarity Campaign did the same in Warsaw, making a special call for the release of Emam Ghazzawi, a 35 year old mother of two who has been in prison for nearly 10 years. The vigils were followed by the distribution of flyers with information about political prisoners.
Addameer also called on men and women around the world to sign a petition
demanding that the Israeli Government release all female political prisoners. By the end of Women’s Day nearly 1,000 signatures had been registered in the online petition, with people today still signing to support the call. Whilst these women remain in prison, the Israeli military and Prison Service have a duty to improve the detention conditions of Palestinian women and protect their human rights, as required by international law. This includes ending the systematic abuse of administrative detention and providing every female detainee with access to the legal support and information she is entitled to under international humanitarian law, as well as allowing regular family visits and ensuring her basic health needs are met.