Home Youth activism Mental health workers call on Israel to release prisoner Ahmad Manasra – Mondoweiss

Mental health workers call on Israel to release prisoner Ahmad Manasra – Mondoweiss


The global clamor for the immediate release of 20-year-old Palestinian Ahmad Manasra from Israeli prison has gained momentum thanks to an international campaign launched by the Palestine-Global Mental Health Network (PGMHN) in collaboration with international solidarity groups , the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network, the USA-Palestine Mental Health Network, the France-Palestine Mental Health Network, the Ireland-Palestine Mental Health Network and the South Africa-Palestine Mental Health Network. A public online petition calling for his release has now garnered over 405,000 signatures.

imprison a child

Ahmad Manasra at the age of 13 was involved in an episode of significant violence. Videos taken at the scene show the injured child lying on the ground with a bleeding head wound and document subsequent mistreatment by Israeli authorities. Following brain surgery for a subdural hematoma suffered on that occasion, Ahmad was interrogated in handcuffs as he lay in his hospital bed. The trial was reportedly postponed until Ahmad was 14, to allow authorities to try this child with the imposition of the maximum sentence. Ahmad was eventually sentenced to 12 years in prison, which was later reduced to 9 years. Long periods of solitary confinement ensued – at present Ahmad has been in solitary confinement for seven months.

It is very worrying that Ahmad has been suffering from a serious mental illness for two years. Despite various visits by psychiatrists from Israeli prisons and periodic admissions to prison hospitals as recently as June 15, 2022, Ahmad’s psychological condition continues to deteriorate. Ahmad’s legal defense team’s report on June 17e of that year indicates that his psychological condition was so serious that he was unable to communicate with them. Amnesty International has issued a damning indictment on Ahmad’s fate, released last week.

A growing controversy

Ahmad Manasra’s case was originally brought to the attention of the PGMHN and its international support networks a few months ago by Palestinian jurist and activist Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, who spearheaded longstanding campaigns against Israel’s child abuse. and youth. The Networks then launched the petition demanding the immediate release of Ahmad to his family. April 13e, 2022, Ahmad’s next court appearance, the court issued a favorable judgment, allowing Ahmad to be considered for a possible future court decision regarding his release from prison, having already served two-thirds of his sentence . We believe that the awareness of the already burgeoning international protest had a constructive impact on the court’s decision in April.

Dr. Kevorkian, working with colleagues in Palestine, the legal team defending Ahmad and Ahmad’s parents, then determined that submitting a letter written by medical experts asking for his release could convincingly alert the court to increasing global outrage and generating further public outcry.

The medical letter

On June 15, 2022, PGMHN held an online webinar “Abolish the incarceration of Palestinian children: call for the immediate release of Ahmad Manasra”, to launch a medical letter to be presented by his legal team at the next date of hearing in Israel, signed by three Network of psychiatrists specializing in trauma, child development, brain damage and the consequences of solitary confinement.

During the webinar, Ahmad’s parents spoke directly and eloquently about their son’s desperate emotional state and fears for his life. Panelists in a discussion chaired by psychoanalyst Dr Heba Zaphiriou-Zarifi in the UK included three signatories of the medical letter (Samah Jabr MD in Palestine, Brooke Maddux MD in France and Elizabeth Berger MD in New York) as well as Dr Gwyn Daniel in the UK and Dr Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian in Palestine. The medical letter argued that Ahmad Manasra had not received necessary medical and psychiatric care during his long detention and that various psychiatric drugs had been used without constant ongoing monitoring; furthermore, visits by doctors took place without proper communication with Ahmad in his native Arabic language or consideration of his cultural background.

Network psychiatrists further noted that the 215-page prison medical records did not even mention the crucial issue of possible brain damage as an etiological factor implicated in Ahmad’s mental disorder. Moreover, solitary confinement itself is well known to induce profound psychological disturbances, although the Israeli prison system continues to justify it in this case as allegedly protecting the detainee himself. The medical letter further highlighted the painful loss of normal family, community and educational upbringing that imprisonment has inflicted on this young prisoner since the age of 13, as well as the severe physical and psychological trauma that has been endured. throughout this period. The letter cites the findings of an Israeli psychiatrist who evaluated Ahmad in October 2021, emphatically stating in his report that Ahmad must be immediately released to his family to prevent further psychological damage and allow for his recovery. Meanwhile, repeated requests from independent Palestinian and Israeli doctors to examine Ahmad and assess his immediate condition have been denied.

With his legal team now armed with the medical letter, Ahmad returned to court on June 19, 2022 but no final decision has been made. On June 22, the Israeli courts ruled against Ahmad Manasra’s case, finding him guilty of “terrorism” and thus blocking the possibility of his early release from prison. Ahmad reflects on the hellish circumstances of solitary confinement in the Israeli prison, though his legal defense team plans to appeal the latest decision.

The Context of State Terror

Unfortunately, Ahmad Manasra is not alone. He is just one of hundreds of young people detained by Israeli authorities each year – a process in which children and adolescents are physically and psychologically tormented in inhumane circumstances without legal representation and sometimes detained indefinitely for their entire lives. These children are routinely mistreated – often sexually abused – and systematically denied their rights under international law. Many humanitarian organizations have looked into the atrocities of Israel’s detention of children, including Save the Children’s meticulously argued and documented 2020 report.

Children are often taken from their beds during nighttime raids in response to Israeli suspicions that a family member has been involved in the activism, as a mode of retaliation and intimidation by the community. But the fundamental target of Israeli political and military violence is childhood itself. The imposed restriction of human movement, the demolition of homes, the assassination of community leaders and spokespersons, the economic impoverishment, the bombing of schools, hospitals and universities, as well as the humiliations, threats and Pervasive daily damage suffered by all Palestinians in one form or another – all of these familiar atrocities aim to weaken family cohesion and diminish the potential of the next Palestinian generation to inherit their deserved human potential. The abuse of detained children is itself only part of a larger systematic Israeli policy designed to destroy Palestinian resistance and, in effect, to annihilate society, history, identity and Palestinian meaning systems.

We ask you to sign the petition to register your resistance to this attack on human dignity.

This article was submitted in collaboration with the United Kingdom-Palestine Mental Health Network, the United States-Palestine Mental Health Network and the France-Palestine Mental Health Network.

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