PEN International ‘deeply concerned’ by Palestinian poet’s reported arrest by Israeli forces
PEN International is “deeply concerned” by the reports that Israeli forces have arrested Palestinian poet Ayman Bahjat Qasem. Qasem, 25, was arrested at an internet café in the West Bank on 19 July. Qasem, a renowned poet and journalist, has not been heard from since, raising concerns that he may be at risk of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Qasem’s case is part of a troubling trend of the Israeli authorities targeting writers, journalists, and activists associated with Palestinian cultural and artistic activities. We call on the Israeli authorities to release Qasem without delay and to ensure his safety and freedom of expression while in custody. PEN International urges the Israeli authorities to take the necessary steps to guarantee the safety and well-being of all writers, journalists, and human rights activists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. We further call on the Israeli authorities to respect the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under international human rights law.