01/22/2019

Urgent Action: Prominent Bedouin Leader Imprisoned by Israel (Israel/OPT: UA 4.19)


On 25 December 2018, 69-year-old human rights defender Sheikh Sayyah Abu Mdeighim al-Turi, started serving a 10-month prison sentence for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly. Sheikh Sayyah is the head of al-‘Araqib, a Bedouin village in the Negev/Naqab that is unrecognized by the Israeli authorities. He is currently held at Maasiyahu Prison, in the city of Ramle in central Israel. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

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President Reuven Rivlin
President of the State of Israel,
Office of the President
3 Hanassi Street
Jerusalem 92188, Israel
Fax: +972 2566 4838
Email: [email protected], [email protected]
Ambassador Ron Dermer
Embassy of Israel
3514 International Drive NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 364 5500
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @IsraelinUSA @AmbDermer
Facebook: @IsraelinUSA @ambdermer
Instagram: @israelinusa
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Mr. President,

On 25 December 2018, Sheikh Sayyah Abu Mdeighim al-Turi began to serve a 10-month sentence for his role in building structures in his village. Sheikh Sayyah is a prominent leader of the non-violent struggle for Bedouins’ rights, as well as the head of the Bedouin village of al-‘Araqib in the Negev/Naqab in southern Israel which the Israeli government considers illegal. On 24 December 2017, the Beersheba Magistrate Court convicted him of 19 counts of trespassing, 19 counts of unlawful entry into public land and one count of breach of law and sentenced him to 10 months in prison, five months’ probation and a fine of 36,000 ILS (9,700 USD). On 21 November 2018, Sheikh Sayyah’s appeal was rejected by the Israeli Supreme Court.

I urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Sheikh Sayyah as he is a prisoner of conscience and is imprisoned solely for peacefully defending his human rights and those of his community; to immediately stop all demolitions in the village as they systematically violate the Bedouins’ right to adequate housing; and to respect the Bedouin population’s right to their ancestral land and to officially recognize al-‘Araqib and other “unrecognized” villages. 

Yours sincerely,

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES