Brussels – 20 February 2013

For immediate release

In a letter sent to the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine RToP (1) has urged him to free Palestinian political prisoner and Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti (2). This would make it possible for Barghouti to participate in the Tribunal’s closing session, which will take place in Brussels on 16 and 17 March.

Today, rumours from Palestinian officials say Israel will release 550 political prisoners, including Barghouti himself (3), on the occasion of the US president Barack Obama’s visit to Tel Aviv next month. It’s not the first time that such bold statements appear in the media, without being followed by concrete action from the Israeli government.

That is why we are calling on Peres to make a powerful gesture which would be a groundbreaking milestone to prove Israeli’s will to turn its back on decades of abuses and violence towards the Palestinians.

In the letter, the Russell Tribunal has also invited president Peres to participate in its Brussels session, to defend Israeli’s reasons in front of the jury and to make the case for Israel.

Freeing Barghouti and letting him be present at the final Tribunal’s gathering would be an historic event,the letter reads, one as important as when  former South-African president de Klerk made the decision to free Nelson Mandela, on 11 February 1990.

“The Russell tribunal, in its five years of activities, has shown how Israel, with the complicity of third parties such as the EU and the United States, is enforcing policies of apartheid and persecution towards the Palestinians, that are resulting in an actual sociocide”, said Pierre Galand, RToP General Coordinator. “Putting an end to such crimes is long overdue. By freeing Barghouti and let him join our Brussels session, and by participating himself, Peres has the unprecedented chance to put his money where is mouth is, and prove that Israel really wants a just resolution of the conflict and ultimately peace for all, be them Israelis or Palestinians”, Mr Galand concluded.

Contact: Maurizio Molinari <>


Notes to editors

(1) The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) is a people’s initiative launched in 2009 to bring together legal experts, scholars, activists and celebrities that want to hold Israel to account for its 45 years of occupation of the Palestinian territories and to denounce the complicity of third parties such as the EU, the US and the big corporations in not stopping the perpetration of Israel’s crimes in Palestine. Previous sessions of the Tribunal were held in Barcelona, London, Cape Town and New York. The RToP will  drew its final conclusions in an event in Brussels, on 16 and 17 March, where the jury will be composed of well-known figures such as the Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, the civil rights’ activist Angela Davis and Stephane Hessel, author of the famous pamphlet “Time for outrage”.

(2) Read the letter here.



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