Leading Belgian Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have announced their nomination of Marwan Barghouthi for the Nobel Peace Prize.
This is the first European nomination of Marwan for the Prize. The signatories of the letter of nomination include Gwenaëlle Grovonius, President of the bilateral section Belgium-Palestine of the Belgian group to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Dirk Vandermaelen, President of the External Relations Committee, Vincent Van Quickenborne, President of the Social Affairs Committee, Jean-Marc Delizée, President of the Economy Committee, Benoit Hellings, Vice-President of the National Defence Committee, and Senators Piet De Bruyn and Nadia El Yousfi.
The letter of nomination states “Marwan is an elected representative of the Palestinian nation, and was the first parliamentarian to be arrested…He is a democrat defending Human rights, notably women rights. He was actively engaged in the promotion of political and religious pluralism, and as such he is an important actor for the future of a region more fragmented than ever…Peace requires the freedom of Marwan Barghouthi and of the political prisoners, and more generally the freedom of the Palestinian people living for decades under occupation. By granting the Nobel Peace Prize to the one who embodies the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom, but also their aspiration to achieve peace, a leader that can unite Palestinians around a political project that clearly includes a two-state solution on 1967 borders, more threatened than ever by colonisation and the absence of a political horizon, the Committee for the Nobel Prize would help resurrect the indispensable hope to go out of the current impasse.”
The International Campaign to Free Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners was launched from the cell of Nelson Mandela in October 2013 by anti-Apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada, who launched the Free Mandela campaign before spending 26 years in Apartheid jails. The Campaign has since received the support of 8 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates (Jimmy Carter, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, José Ramos Horta, Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Sherin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchú Tum), 115 Governments around the world, 15 former Heads of States and Governments, hundreds of parliamentarians, artists, intellectuals, academics, and thousands of citizens, making it the biggest international campaign in the history of the Palestinian struggle.
The nomination by leading Belgian parliamentarians is the third nomination of Marwan Barghouthi to the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Adolfo Perez Esquivel was the first to nominate Marwan in January 2016. Esquivel is an Argentinian artist and was a leading figure and icon of the struggle against dictatorships in Latin America, notably in Argentina, where he was arrested and tortured under the dictatorship. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980. The second nomination came as a result of a unanimous decision of the Arab Parliament.
There are today 7000 Palestinian prisoners, including 7 parliamentarians, 400 children, 30 pre-Oslo prisoners, 67 women, 20 journalists, 750 administrative detainees, hundreds of sick prisoners.