The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi

“ In our work with people in Gaza, we have been told repeatedly that the issue of the prisoners is a vital one for the entire Palestinian resistance movement that cuts across political divides. Shireen Issawi like all political prisoners needs to know that she is not forgotten and that she is in our hearts.” — Rafah Sister City Project, Madison, Wisconsin

Roots To Resistance: A Project About Art Activism And Global Connection

“As water is to life, so dignity is to my Humanity” Shireen Issawi


Shireen Issawi is a Palestinian Human Rights Lawyer who was arrested on March 6th 2014 by the Israeli Military as part of a crackdown on Lawyers who where defending and advocating for Palestinian Prisoners. The lawyers, who were enacting fundamental Human Rights law, were branded as supporters of terrorism and have been incarcerated ever since. Shireen Issawi has become the very prisoner that she sought to defend, someone imprisoned and mistreated because of her work, her beliefs and her non violent resistance. Shireen was arrested because of her actions and complaints as a Human Rights lawyer concerning the mistreatment of Palestinian Prisoners and the holding of prisoners without charge. She was very much aware that defending the rights and treatment of Palestinians was a highly risky endeavor but this did not deter Shireen from her work and she continued to press forward in the face of mounting threats. Where would we be without such Humans, who are willing to sacrifice so much in the name of what is just, and what are we willing to do in support of them?

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It is from the portal of Shireen Issawi that we can view the devastating effects of so many Palestinians currently imprisoned under similar conditions. Perhaps you might imagine your own Sister, Daughter, or Mother arrested, knowing she is innocent but entirely unable to help her, and the World is mostly silent. Indeed Shireen stands in for hundreds of thousands of Political Prisoners all over this Planet, in Burma, Bahrain, Egypt, China, Eritrea, Mexico, here in the US, and in almost every Country across the Globe. As citizens of the World, I hope we will feel obligated and committed to using whatever small tools we may have to denounce such abundant injustice, despite the complications, despite our fears about entering into the realms of Israel and Palestine, despite the ease and lure of keeping quiet and tending our own lives.


In this case, we at Roots to Resistance, a small Arts and Social Justice Organization, make our offerings to those who have long been seeking and fighting for Justice on issues in Palestine. We have painted an 8 foot high Portrait of Shireen and created a Global Postcard Campaign Demanding her Freedom and an end to the US funding that perpetuates conditions of Occupation across Palestine. Most importantly we have partnered with dozens of Organizations and hundreds of Peoples from all over the World to create A Global Sign Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi. The Organizations and People involved in the campaign may not speak with one voice when it comes to all of the issues involved with Palestine and Israel, but we do speak as one about the absolute demand for Shireen’s release from prison.


One World UK


The Global Sign Campaign is an initiative asking folks from all over the Planet to send pictures of themselves holding signs Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi. In the end we have gathered over 150 with more arriving each day. Our goal in this endeavor was to invite all voices to demand Justice, not just the politicized or those well versed in the talking points of the Middle East.The invitation was for all to join because we think that a movement filled with a diversity of opinions but one voice on Shireen is the strongest way forward. Please come visit and enjoy the gallery of beautiful faces on our campaign page. puebla mexico 5 If you would like to add your own picture to our Global Sign Campaign please send your submissions on to us:

Many of those who sent pictures and signs also sent answers to a question we posed: “Why is it important for you to be involved in the Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi? “ Below are some of the answers beginning with a statement from the two Organizations working together to win Shireen’s Freedom.

“Shireen Issawi’s case is emblematic in highlighting how Palestinian human rights defenders are being targeted by Israeli authorities for arrest and prolonged detention due to peacefully working to protect and promote fundamental human rights. Ms. Issawi has now been held continuously in detention for nearly 19 months pending the outcome of her trial. We reiterate our call for the evidence relied upon by the Israeli authorities to indict Ms. Issawi to be subjected to rigorous examination and testing, in accordance with Israel’s duty under international human rights law to protect Ms. Issawi’s right to a fair trial.
Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights of the UK and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Ramallah Palestine

“Shireen has dedicated her life to justice and freedom for those Palestinian arbitrarily detained in Israel. She is a courageous and inspiring human rights defender who comes from a family committed to nonviolent resistance. The accusations held against her of supporting “terrorism” are ludicrous. She became a lawyer precisely because she believed the path to peace must be based on the protection of human rights and justice.” Ines Osman Alkarama Foundation, Switzerland

“The imprisonment of human rights lawyer and activist Shireen Issawi is yet another stain on Israel’s grim record of severe violations of human rights and international law and conventions. It is a gross miscarriage of justice, and should be terminated at once.” Noam Chomsky, US

“I felt compelled to support the call to free Shireen after learning about her deep passion for supporting human rights. As a veteran of two recent wars – I fully appreciate the heart and soul she has put in her struggle (and consequent imprisonment) to allow the freedoms we all deserve. Although we may do it in different ways, we share the need and passion to serve our fellow humans – in hopes of obtaining what is the basic rights of all humans on our wonderful planet. “ MSgt David Beaudet, USAF, Ret, B.S.

“I support this because we cannot let fear and confusion run our lives. Israel will not be safe until Palestine is free and Palestine will not be free until Israel is safe. As a Jew, I find it is critically important to take a stand against atrocities that are being committed towards Palestinian People. Shireen Issawi should be free. Free to live her life and speak her mind.” Rachel, Massachusetts

“Hope springs from the lives of people like Shireen Issawi, who strive non-violently for the freedom of political prisoners. Her dedication to that cause was recognized in December when the president of PeaceWomen across the Globe awarded her (in absentia) the AlKarama Award for Human Rights. Then, as now, Shireen was locked behind bars in an Israeli prison with those for whose freedom she has devoted her efforts. Should we not also recognize Shireen’s dedication and call for her release from prison and for the release of all non-violent political prisoners?”
Paul , New York

“It is important for me to be involved in the campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi because justice must be universal. Justice for Shireen and all other administrative detainees must be immediate with freedom granted or charges laid. Administrative Detention is an usually cruel and inhumane practice and must be condemned. If a simple inhumane law like “Administrative Detention” cannot be overturned what hope for true justice for Palestine. Free Shireen and the other prisoners.”
Nasser, Victoria Australia

“ In our work with people in Gaza, we have been told repeatedly that the issue of the prisoners is a vital one for the entire Palestinian resistance movement that cuts across political divides. Shireen Issawi like all political prisoners needs to know that she is not forgotten and that she is in our hearts.” Rafah Sister City Project, Madison, Wisconsin

“We support human rights and all those like Shireen Issawi who are working for Human Rights.” Davis Committee For Palestinian Rights, California

“Why is it important for us to be involved?!
Well , if we can do not much – this we can ! We can give our voice for the People which have no voice right now ! Shireen Issawi and her Family suffer because they are Palestinians who fight for their rights! We will stand with them! Free all political prisoners!”
BDS Zurich, Switzerland

Shireen Issawi has been punished, not for committing a crime, but for daring to defend human rights and free speech in the face of a brutal occupation. Her arrest an incarceration show how threatening these basic values are to the Israeli occupation. Palestine Advocacy Project, Cambridge

Shireen Issawi and her family have been relentlessly persecuted by Israel for over two decades. The imprisonment of Shireen is another deep and brutal injustice for her and her family that is representative of how Israel attempts to quell and punish righteous rebellion against its many decades of systematic apartheid and ethnocide. Israel must release Shireen and the over-5,000 political prisoners it holds and tortures, remember that compassion is the essence of life, and abandon its current course.
Alisa Klein Massachusetts

“ It’s about empathy, I live in Mexico, Mexico is a corrupt country and where the law favors the powerful, I can be arrested arbitrarily to defend my people as has happened to Shireen, she defended her brother and she has defended political prisoners in Palestine, but who defends her? If I lived the case of Shireen, I wanted someone to defend my case, someone to talk to the world about the injustices that I live and that my people live, is my reason to get involved in the campaign to demand the liberation of Shireen Issawi, empathy and solidarity with someone who has fought for the Palestinian people without asking anything in exchange.” Ana Rosa Moreno Puebla, Mexico

“I strongly support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted by the UN in 1948. As a person who believes in human and civil rights and human dignity, Palestinian lawyer Shireen Al Issawi,is a shining example of courage, perseverance, and determination in striving to achieve justice for Palestinians who have suffered an ugly and brutal military occupation for 48 years. She has been unjustly imprisoned and I call on all those leaders who say they endorse human rights to act to free Shireen Issawi and the Palestinian people from the prison they currently endure.”
Will Thomas New Hampshire Veterans for Peace

I am in involved in the Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi, as I am involved in all the campaigns related to Palestinian political prisoners, because the issue of Israel’s mass incarceration of Palestinians is at the heart of Palestinian resistance and struggle for liberation.
Rima, Jerusalem

I support the campaign to demand freedom for Shireen Issawi because she is simply asking for truth and justice for Palestinian prisoners. This should not be a lot to ask of the Israeli government. The fact that this government considers this inflammatory and unacceptable, to the point that they have kept Shireen imprisoned and silenced, demonstrates the brutality and irrationality of the Israeli regime and occupation. Shireen’s fight is a fight to return humanity to her fellow Palestinian citizens, and it is emblematic of all brave activists around the world fighting for the humanity of all oppressed peoples. Shireen Issawi must be freed! Natascia Pica, Massachusetts

“Free speech and justice should be global rights” Kate, Massachusetts

“The world must demand release of all prisoners held by Israel in violation of international law!”