AMMAN - "Our pain is ongoing and our sleep is disrupted by memories of our sons and fear for their lives," said one of many women who have brothers, fathers, sons or sisters in Israeli prisons.
Detainee Saleh Aref’s mother, who did not wish to be named, made the remarks during a conference on Wednesday held by the National Committee for Prisoners and Missing Persons in Israel to lobby for the release of some 30 Jordanian prisoners in Israeli jails.
The conference aimed to gather support for campaigners and families of prisoners ahead of an international conference on detainees in Israel that will take place in Algeria next month, according to Maysara Malas, president of the national committee for prisoners in Israel.
He claimed that Jordanian prisoners are treated worse than other inmates in Israeli prisons and are refused medical attention as well as denied visitations.
He also criticised successive governments for what he described as “neglecting” the fate of prisoners, stressing that civil society should also shoulder the responsibility to pressure for the release of the prisoners.
During the conference, held at the Professional Associations Complex in Amman, activists from the Islamist movement, leftist parties and human rights groups criticised Arab countries for doing little to guarantee the safety of detainees, many of whom are serving multiple life sentences.
Munir Hamarneh, secretary general of the Jordan Communist Party, said the issue of prisoners in Israel should be an international cause.
“We should try to highlight the suffering of the prisoners to the world. This is not a domestic problem, it is an international case that requires the support of the government and other Arab states,” he said in a speech at the conference.
Families of inmates reiterated their call on the government to organise regular visits and highlighted the difficult conditions in Israeli jails, claiming that some prisoners are abused by prison authorities and denied proper medical care.
The foreign ministry has repeatedly pledged to follow up on the status of all Jordanian prisoners in Israel and elsewhere.