Eric Cantona calls Release of Palestinian Mahmoud Sarsak

June 13, 2012 8:56 am 0 comments Views: 54

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):

Eric Cantona

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 legend join the call from cultural and academic figures in support of Mahmoud, a Palestinian footballer from Gaza.”

Mr. Joarder also said ”We also welcome the support from ‘Show Racism the Red Card‘ coming days after the World Professional Football Association FIFPro support for Sarsak last week, which demanded that Mahmoud be released from prison.’


Contact your MP and inform them about the case of Mahmoud Sarsak.  Inform your MP that Israel is breaking international rights under Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which says that no person should be “subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention”.

Ask your MP to write to the Foreign Secretary to ask him to formally condemn administrative detention and call for the immediate end of its use by Israel.

You can find your MP’s contact details here.

Please cc: Alistair Burt MP, Foreign Office Minister


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