"We kiss each other with our fingers"
(Majed, Prisoner Manal`s son)
"When they attacked us with water hoses, I hid my baby in my bosom and ran to the safest place in the cell to protect him as much as I could".
(Prisoner Manal Ghanim)
Addameer Prisoners` Support and Human Rights Association
CAMPAIGN TO FREE MANAL AND NOUR LAUNCHED TODAY
Ramallah - 21 March 2005. Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer) today launched a campaign demanding that the Israeli government release Palestinian female prisoner Manal Naji Mahmoud Ghanim, 29 years old from Tulkarem, and her child Nour, 1 and a half years old, who have been imprisoned since 17 April 2003. Both Manal and Nour are being held in Telmond Prison. Manal, who suffers from Thalasemia, was arrested while she was pregnant. Taken away from her family in handcuffs, Manal delivered Nour in an Israeli hospital. The prison administration does not provide Manal and Nour with the special medical care they require, nor does it provide Nour with the milk he needs as his mother cannot breast feed him.
At 03:00 on 17 April 2003, the Israeli army arrested Manal, the mother of 3 children, the eldest of whom is in the 5th grade, from her house in Tulkarem refugee camp. Israeli troops handcuffed Manal, blindfolded her, and beat her as she tried to prevent them from assaulting Majed, her 4-year-old son. Israeli troops also damaged the contents of her house, confiscated all family papers, personal ID cards, and certificates. Additionally, Israeli troops did not present an arrest order, nor did they read Manal her rights when they arrested her.
"We have a very critical humanitarian situation here", Mrs. Khaleda Jarrar, Addameer`s Director General, stated. Despite the fact that she suffers from Thalasemia and that she is a mother of a baby born behind bars, prisoner Manal, her children (Niveen, Ihab, and Majed), along with her husband (a total of 6 people), suffer daily as a result of her imprisonment. Majed, who suffers from sickle cell anemia, a chronic disease resembling Thalasemia, requires his mother at his side as his condition entails him going to hospital every 10 days. In fact, Manal`s absence from home has made her family prisoners as well. … Her children suffer from serious psychological impacts as a result of her absence, exhibited by behavioral disorders, violence, depression, failure at school, and aggression. "Due to Manal`s condition, and in recognition of the just cause of all Palestinian political prisoners, we invite you to join us and Manal`s family in the campaign to release Manal and her son", Mrs. Jarrar continued.
In regards to legal action that can be adopted during the campaign, Advocate Mahmoud Hassan, supervisor of the Addameer campaign, submitted a petition to the Israeli military commander, who is vested with full authority according to Israeli military regulations applicable in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (through the legal advisor), to immediately release Manal and Nour based on Manal`s condition and the ongoing trauma that she has been subjected to in prison. In addition to delivering her son inside the prison, thus fated to spend his childhood behind bars, Manal`s suffering is immeasurable as she is forced away from her children and husband.
Prisoner Manal says she is concerned for Nour`s life, as Israeli troops regular use water hoses and tear gas against Palestinian female prisoners. "Nour needs light, sunshine, fresh air, toys, all of which is denied him behind closed doors that are frightening. … When they attacked us with water hoses, I hid him in my bosom and ran to the safest place in the cell to protect him as much as I could. I hope that Addameer`s campaign will help me reunite with my family as soon as possible", Manal stated.
Shahnaz Saber Mudallal, a nurse treating Majed for 5 years at Dr. Thabet Thabet Hospital in Tulkarem said, "Majed was in good spirits before his mother was arrested. He used to play and talk all the time, just like other children. However, after his mother was arrested, Majed was miserable". Now, he needs blood transfusions almost every 2 months and suffers from failures every 10 days. He often suffers from high fevers, approximating to 40 C, and severe pain in the stomach, back, and leg and hand joints, forcing his family to take him to hospital for periods of 5 days at a time. … He refuses to stay at hospital and demands to be taken back home. Often, he is released from hospital at his family`s request. Additionally, his health condition worsens whenever he visits his mother, forcing his doctors to request that the family no longer allow him to visit his mother.
During a press conference at the Media Center, Mrs. Jarrar and Adv. Mahmoud Hassan announced the launch of the campaign. Dr. Bashar Al Karmi also explained the critical situation of Thalasemia patients. Manal`s children attended the ceremony.
Addameer invited all institutions and the Palestinian public to participate in the campaign by sending messages to place pressure on the Israeli government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to release Manal and Nour. Additionally, Addameer called for sending messages of support to Manal in Telmond Prison to support her children in Tulkarem refugee camp. … Messages may be sent from the Addameer website at http://www.addameer.org/, where a section has been dedicated to the campaign. … Next week, Addameer will also launch a campaign throughout Palestinian cities to collect signatures to be attached to a petition to release Manal and Nour. Addameer invites all Palestinians, in particular university and school students, to take part in this campaign.
On Mother`s Day, Manal`s children wrote special letters to their mother. "When I visit you, Mom, I feel like breaking the glass, removing the wire fence, and freeing you", 9-year-old Ihab writes. "Mom, we bought you clothes and toys for Nour. We kiss each other with our fingers", Majed, the younger son, wrote.
Manal is one of over 7,500 Palestinian prisoners subjected to harsh conditions of imprisonment in Israeli prisons and detention centers. Approximately 115 female political prisoners are held in Telmond and Neve Tertza prisons. Manal is one of 2 female prisoners who were arrested while they were pregnant during the current Intifada (Uprising), beginning in last September 2000. Mervat Taha, 21 years old, was the first pregnant Palestinian female prisoner to deliver her baby in an Israeli prison. The Israeli Prisons Service allows female prisoners to raise their babies in prison for 2 years, after which they are forced to give them to their families outside prison.