ECCP and Samidoun joint statement on the assassination of Omar Nayef Zayed inside Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria

The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) and Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network issued a joint appeal to all Members of European Parliament on the killing of Omar Nayef Zayed, on 26 February 2016. ECCP and Samidoun will be following up this letter with an ongoing push for transparency, justice and accountability for the taking of the life of Zayed, a former Palestinian prisoner sought for extradition from Bulgaria to the Israeli occupation. The letter was written and sent hours after Nayef Zayed was pronounced dead in Sofia. Both organizations had been working together to advocate against the extradition of Nayef Zayed. The text of the appeal follows:

Dear Members of the European Parliament,

We write today with heavy hearts and extreme distress about an incident that has just occurred in Sofia, Bulgaria. Omar Nayef Zayed, the former Palestinian prisoner currently pursued for extradition by Israel and Bulgarian police, was found dead yesterday morning inside the Palestinian embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he had taken refuge from the extradition request.

Omar’s case was a critical case for Palestinians in Europe; he had lived in Bulgaria for the past 22 years as a permanent resident, with his Bulgarian-citizen wife and three Bulgarian-citizen children. He fled Israeli imprisonment after a 40-day hunger strike in 1990; the threat of his extradition on the basis of his conviction by an Israeli court trying Palestinians from the West Bank in an unfair trial, after being subject to torture, held severe concerns not only for him as an individual but for all Palestinians in Europe who could face such threats.

Bulgarian police are reporting that it appears that Omar fell from a high story in the embassy building into its garden; they are also reporting that it is “not excluded” that he was pushed in order to cause the fall. Both Israeli and Palestinian media are reporting that Omar Nayef Zayed was the victim of an assassination in Sofia this morning.

Bulgarian police have closed off the street where the embassy is located and are carrying out an investigation. Due to the politically sensitive nature of this case and its high level of international importance, it is critical that Omar Nayef Zayed receive an independent autopsy and a full, transparent and independent investigation of his death in order to hold those responsible accountable.

Israeli intelligence agencies have in the past carried out assassinations on European territory, like those of Naim Khader, Mahmoud Hamshari, Wael Zuaiter and others. Omar’s family and Palestinian officials have declared Omar’s death an assassination; the fact that Israeli media is already reporting his death as an assassination lends further support to this statement. The assassination and killing of a former Palestinian prisoner in Europe is not acceptable and must not be allowed to pass by without serious investigation and international accountability.

We urge you to contact your Bulgarian colleagues and Bulgarian officials to urge the highest level of investigation into the case of Omar Nayef Zayed, and to register your interest in this case of major international import.


European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network