Target: Prime Minister Nuri Kamil al-Maliki
Goal: Free Shawqi Ahmad ‘Omar, who should have been released from prison two years ago.
Shawqi Ahmad ‘Omar’s story sounds like the plot of a dystopian novel: convicted under a mistaken identity, he served a seven-year jail sentence, only to be arbitrarily denied release when his time was up. He remains in jail, and his health is quickly deteriorating as a result of his hunger strike in protest of his imprisonment. Sign the petition and call for the immediate release of Shawqi Ahmad ‘Omar.
‘Omar and his wife were arrested by the United States-helmed Multinational Force (MNF) in 2004, on suspicion of activities related to terrorism. ‘Omar’s wife was released within a few days, but ‘Omar remained in prison for six years before he was even charged with a crime. In 2010, he was convicted of entering Iraq illegally and sentenced to fifteen years in jail. ‘Omar says the charge had never been mentioned to him prior to his conviction. Even more unsettling was, he was charged as Shawqi Ahmad Sharif, a Palestinian national. The out-of-left-field charge combined with the similarity between the men’s names has led ‘Omar to suspect that his is a case of mistaken identity. In 2011 his sentence was reduced to seven years, counting time served. He should have been released that same year, but ‘Omar continues to languish in prison.
Amnesty International reports of ‘Omar’s case that “[o]ne of his co-accused signed a court-certified statement after his [own] release stating that the MNF tortured him in order to force him to incriminate Shawqi ‘Omar, whom he did not know, in return for his release.” ‘Omar and his wife have both leveled allegations of torture at the MNF, accusing them of using electric shocks during interrogation. Amnesty reports that ‘Omar was subjected to further torture and ill-treatment as he was bounced between detention facilities.
Finally, despite the fact that he should not even be in jail anymore, ‘Omar was most recently moved to the infamous Abu Ghraib Prison, where his family has been unable to communicate with him for six weeks.
There is absolutely no reason for Shawqi Ahmad ‘Omar to be in prison. Sign the petition and demand that he be released immediately, that full investigations be launched into his, his wife’s, and his co-accused’s allegations of torture, and that he be treated fairly and humanely as long as he remains in detention.
I am writing to request an immediate clarification of the legal status of Shawqi Ahmad ‘Omar, who was detained by the Multinational Force (MNF) in 2004. Despite the fact that his prison sentence ended in 2011, ‘Omar continues to be kept in prison, and recently he has been cut off from communication with his family. His health is also at risk, due in part to the hunger strikes he has undertaken to protest his continued and unjust detention. I demand an immediate resolution to the situation. Release Shawqi Ahmad ‘Omar and launch full and impartial investigations into his and others’ allegations of torture and ill-treatment.
‘Omar and his wife, Narmeen Saleh al-Ruba’i, were arrested on suspicion of terrorist activities in 2004. While al-Ruba’i was released within a few days, ‘Omar languished in prison for six years before he was even charged with a crime. When his conviction came, it was for the charge of illegally entering Iraq–and ‘Omar was charged under the name Shawqi Ahmad Sharif. Sharif is a Palestinian national, while ‘Omar is a national of Jordan and the United States. ‘Omar was also never informed of the charge prior to his trial and conviction, leading him to believe that the entire situation is a case of mistaken identity.
Furthermore, Amnesty International reports, “[o]ne of [‘Omar’s] co-accused signed a court-certified statement after his [own]
release stating that the MNF tortured him in order to force him to incriminate Shawqi ‘Omar, whom he did not know,
in return for his release.” Al-Ruba’i also alleges that she and ‘Omar were tortured through the use of electric shocks during their interrogation, and Amnesty alleges that ‘Omar has been subjected to torture and ill-treatment on multiple occasions during his seven years in prison.
To top all of this off, ‘Omar was set to be released from jail two years ago. In 2011, his fifteen-year sentence was reduced to seven years. Under Article 295 of the Iraqi Criminal Procedure Code, time spent in detention before one’s trial counts as time served, so ‘Omar should have been a free man in 2011. His continued detention is perplexing, illegal, unjustified, and cruel.
I demand justice for Shawqi Ahmad ‘Omar and his family. I demand that ‘Omar be released immediately. I demand that he is guaranteed personal safety, given access to medical care, allowed communication with his family, and afforded humane treatment for as long as he remains in detention. And I demand full and impartial investigations into his and others’ allegations of torture against the MNF.
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Photo Credit: Jon “ShakataGaNai” Davis via Wikimedia Commons