Step One: I mail the letter of concern on behalf of an Amnesty International political prisoner (See Below) to a Global Importune member.
Step Two: If he or she agrees with the letter they sign and returns it in the self-addressed stamped envelope provided by Global Importune.
Step Three: I take the original letter and make two copies of the letter and send them to (in this case) Ambassador David Ivry of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, the United States Ambassador to Israel in Tel Aviv, Israel and send the original to it target, Elyakim Rubinstein, the Attorney General in the Israeli Ministry of Justice.
Step Four: Usually, the official response is addressed to me here at Global Importune. This despite the fact that I urge them to write and respond to members individually.
Step Five: The pressure from other sources around the world continues until the prisoner is released. Sometimes Amnesty International makes an announcement or sometimes I stumble over an article in a foreign newspaper. I then announce it to Global Importune members in our newsletter.
Human Rights Defender ‘Abed al-Rahman al-Ahmar Released
Prisoner of conscience ‘Abed al-Rahman al-Ahmar was released on May 23, 2002 when his administrative detention order expired. He had spent one year in administrative detention. According to his lawyer, the Israeli authorities ”admitted that they had no evidence against ‘Abed to justify his detention”.
On his release, ‘Abed was apparently left at the Qalandia checkpoint, still handcuffed, without money or identity papers, just outside Ramallah, in the West Bank. It was too late at night for him to get to his home in Bethlehem, and he had to spend the night in Qalandia. The next day, police stopped the taxi he was traveling to Bethlehem in, checked ‘his ID number and detained him again, but released him shortly afterwards.
According to his lawyer, ‘Abed ”intends to return to his work in human rights and work to bring an end to the use of administrative detention”. He has asked that his thanks be passed on to all those who supported and worked towards his release.
The following is part of a letter written by the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG) after an Amnesty International Urgent Action was issued on behalf of one of their staff.
May 25, 2002
RE: Abed al-Rahman al-Ahmar
‘We have already received copies of hundreds of letters, from Australia to Germany and from Canada to Taiwan, and the stream continues to reach us, handwritten or typewritten note, by surface mail or by fax.
What might appear at your end as an insignificant contribution to human rights and democracy in the world grows and swells until folders after folders are filled with letters of protests at our end.
I wish you could have seen your letters brandished in court by Abed’s lawyer. Your work is both meaningful and powerful.’
Of course it doesn’t always work out this way. There is no set formula to gain the release of prisoners, thousands of innocent people remain in prison awaiting help.