Outside the headquarters of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), via Gregorio Allegri in Rome, the organizations of solidarity with the Palestinian people marked an important goal for the Palestinian cause on Wednesday.
A large group of activists has given voice to those in Italy who support Mahmoud Al Sarsak, the Palestinian football player on hunger strike for some three months and now in danger of death.
A delegation of the solidarity activists was received by the Secretary of the FIGC, Dr. Antonio Di Sebastiano; they explained to him that Sarsak was stopped in July 2009 while crossing the Erez checkpoint to join his team in the West Bank. Since then Sarsak is held without trial on charges of being an illegal combatant, a definition of convenience that allows Israel to detain a Palestinian without trial and without further evidence.
The delegation asked the FIGC to take on the situation of Mahamud Al Sarsak and express a position of support according to humanitarian and international laws consistent with those principles which are the statutory references for FIGC and AIC. Few hours ago FIFA President Sepp Blatter, the unforgettable French star Eric Cantona and many Spanish players and athletes, including Javier Paredes (Zaragoza), Antonio LÃ³pez (Madrid), Carlos Gurpegui (Athletic), Patxi PuÃ±al (Osasuna), expressed solidarity with Sarsak and concern for his conditions.
The delegation delivered a letter of demands to the representative of the FIGC and urged the Federation to signify solidarity and closeness of the football world to Sarsak and to the Palestinian Football Federation.
Dr. Di Sebastiano said that the FIGC has just recently hosted the National Palestinian football and its directors, stressing that sport has the purpose and task of bringing people together and talk about peace. The FIGC has posted on its website a press release stating that "a delegation of representatives of associations for Palestine met this morning with the Secretary of FIGC Antonio Di Sebastiano, at the headquarters of Federation in via Allegri, delivering a document to support the cause of Mahmoud Sarsak, National Palestinian player, prisoner in Israel for three years. Sarsak on Sunday was transferred from Ramle prison hospital in Assaf Harofeh hospital because of worsening of his condition caused by 87-day hunger strike(...)." The promoters of the event now expected a concrete action by federal managers to save the life of Sarsak and secure his release.
To conclude, the protesters warned that the detention without trial of Sarsak is a condition that involves hundreds of Palestinians, including dozens of children from 12 years of age, and the conditions of over 4000 inmates in Israeli prisons deserve the attention of people and institutions. Too many times in history people were indifferent to this tragedy: we are no longer willing to do so, concluded the protesters.
Committee "With Palestine in the heart"
Association of friends of Palestinian prisoners
Roman Net of Solidarity with Palestine
Friends of Palestine Red Crescent
Palestinian community in Rome and Lazio
A bridge to ... (Un ponte per...)
Coordination Freedom Flotilla Italy - Welcome to Palestine
Association for Peace