Gaza Youth Trials Picket

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‘MY BROTHER is a political prisoner. He was due to go to university this year, but instead he’s been jailed for protesting outside the Israeli Embassy against their war crimes in Gaza.’

Twenty-one-year-old Mohamed Ali was talking to News Line yesterday outside Isleworth Crown Court in west London, where another nine protesters were due to be sentenced.

Nearly one hundred people demonstrated outside the court yesterday, in a protest called by the Stop the War Coalition against the arrest and jailing of young people following last year’s demonstrations against Israel’s genocidal bombing of Gaza, when more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

Mohamed continued: ‘My 18-year-old brother has been jailed for 18-months. He did nothing. He was in London on that day in January last year, protesting against Israeli genocide.

‘He came home and told the family that the police were being violent at the protest and he got caught inside their cordon.

‘He’s a bright student. He applied for three universities and was accepted at all three. He was about to go to university this year.

‘Now he’s a political prisoner, jailed for protesting in defence of Palestine.’

Chris Nineham, from the Stop the War Coalition told News Line: ‘Ninety, mainly young, people have been picked up and 78 have been charged with violent disorder on 3rd and 10th of January last year’.

Many of them had been arrested in ‘terrifying dawn raids’ he said.

‘Some have pleaded guilty, some not guilty. 15 have been sentenced so far. The nine being sentenced today all pleaded guilty.’

Young protester Hanan said: ‘The sentencing has been disproportionate. The judge made it very clear that the purpose of the sentence is to scare people from protesting.

‘It’s a shame on the British government that they will prosecute young 19-year-old men for minor offences, but they won’t take any action against Israel and its war criminals.’

Ahmed told News Line: ‘My son is in jail now for three years. All he did was demonstrate for Gaza outside the Israeli Embassy.

‘Our family is from Gaza. The Israeli army destroyed our houses. They killed two members of our family and four children of our family were injured badly.

‘I want to ask the government what they have done against the Israeli government and army for what they’ve done compared with how they are dealing with the Palestinian people.’

Ahmed’s wife Majida said: ‘On the day in question the police were very aggressive and provocative.

‘My son is in prison now because he protested against the Israeli government’s attacks on Gaza.’

Majida’s sister, Nafina said: ‘The police pushed old ladies. They kept people for two or three hours. They arrested one boy, put him on his knees on the pavement and threatened him with a dog.’

Ahmed added: ‘It is incredible. Every day we hear them say this is a democratic country, but where is the democracy?’

Sahar, who was with her children on the demonstration last year when hundreds of protesters were trapped in a tunnel, told News Line: ‘The whole thing is terribly unfair. The violence in those protests wasn’t from our side, it was from the police side.

‘I had children with me in that tunnel and they were really frightened when the police trapped people in the middle and they put smoke or gas in so people found it hard to breath.

‘It was because of the cause – people protesting against Israel.’

23- and 22-year-old sisters Asha and Sumaya Jeylani said: ‘Our 18-year-old nephew has been arrested and sentenced for two years, just for protesting against the Israeli genocide.

‘We are always told the one positive thing about Britain is freedom of speech and freedom to protest, but this shows that it just isn’t true and it never will be true.’

Trials for those who have been arrested and are pleading not-guilty are due to take place in March.