Launch of the international campaign for the freedom of Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian political prisoners from Robben Island in South Africa
11 October 2013
An "International Campaign for the Freedom of Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian Political Prisoners" will be launched from the historic South African landmark, Robben Island, on Sunday the 27th October. The Palestinian based "Popular Campaign for the Release of Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian Political Prisoners" and the "Ahmed Kathrada Foundation" are the organisers of this event.
The launch will be attended by Mrs Fadwa Barghouthi, the Head of the Popular Campaign, the Palestinian Minister of Detainees and ex-detainees, Palestinian officials and representatives of human rights organisations. They will be accompanied by Ahmed Kathrada and a host of other South Africans, who will also gather there to show their commitment to the campaign.
At this occasion, an International High Level Committee in support of this Campaign will be announced. This committee will include five Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. The call for the establishment of this Committee was made by Ahmed Kathrada at an International “Freedom and Dignity” conference held in Palestine in April.
Marwan Barghouthi was the first member of the Palestinian Legislative Council to be arrested by the Israeli regime. He is one of the most prominent of the over 5 000 Palestinian prisoners who remain incarcerated in Israeli jails.
WHERE: Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa 
WHEN: Sunday, 27 October 2013 
TIME: 09h00 (Ferry for all attendees will leave Cape Town at 09h00 and return at 14h00)
RSVP: Members of the press wishing to attend are requested to forward their name, surname, ID/Passport number, name of the media house that they represent and a copy of their ID/Passport to The return cost for the ferry from Cape Town to Robben Island for members of the media will be covered by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.
Following the Robben Island launch of the "Campaign for the Release of Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian Political Prisoners", there will be public events in Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg (details will be distributed shortly). The launch of the International Campaign and the establishment of the High Level Committee follows a visit by Ahmed Kathrada to Palestine earlier this year. On his return, Kathrada, who himself spent 26 years imprisoned on Robben Island during Apartheid, said: "I believe the International Community has a moral, legal and political responsibility to secure the freedom of Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian political prisoners…hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have experienced imprisonment at a certain point in their lives, in one of the most striking examples of mass detention in recent history. Some of these prisoners have spent over 30 years in Israeli jails … the freedom of the Palestinian people is intricately linked to the freedom of Palestinian political prisoners."
Background reading / Editor’s notes:
Marwan Barghouthi (54) is known as the ‘Palestinian Mandela'. At the age of 15, Barghouthi joined the Palestinian political party, Fatah, where he co-founded the Fatah Youth Movement. At the age of 18, in 1976, Barghouthi was first arrested by Israel for involvement in Palestinian political and resistance groups. Barghouthi completed his secondary education and received a high school diploma while he was in jail. 
Once released, Barghouthi became a member of the Palestinian parliament, where he served until he was abducted and arrested in 2002 by the Israeli army and thereafter tried, convicted and sentenced to five life sentences. The international Inter-Parliamentary Union has subsequently found that Barghouthi’s abduction, arrest and transfer to Israeli territory was in violation of international law and has, together with other international human rights organisations, called for his immediate release. At his trial in 2002, Barghouthi did not participate in its proceedings. Instead, he refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Israeli courts and maintained that his abduction and the Israeli trial were illegal and illegitimate. From within prison, he pursued his efforts for Palestinian unity and freedom, including through his central role in the elaboration of the prisoners’ document for national reconciliation.
Almost 750 000 Palestinians (or roughly 20% of the total Palestinian population and 40% of the male population) have been imprisoned by Israel at one point in time. About 100 000 Palestinians have been held by Israel in "administrative detention" (the equivalent of Apartheid South Africa's "Detention without trial"). Similar to the experience of Black families under Apartheid, almost every Palestinian family has been affected by the Israeli imprisonment of a relative. Over 5000 Palestinians are currently detained by Israel; 13 of them women, 195 of them children, and 134 of them held under "administrative detention". Several Israeli prisons and interrogation centers are equipped, serviced and run by the international security company, G4S.