SACC and other concerned groups and individuals have today written to David Kennedy, Governor of Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland, urging him to arrange specialist medical attention for Dr Issam Hijawi Bassalat, an Edinburgh man of Palestinian origin held there on remand. Copies of the letter have been sent to Northern Ireland Justice Minister Naomi Long MLA and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis MP.
The letter says:
"Dear Mr Kennedy
We are writing with reference to Dr Issam Hijawi Bassalat, a remand prisoner at HMP Maghaberry.
As you will be aware, Dr Bassalat is a medical doctor from Edinburgh and is of Palestinian origin. He is awaiting trial on a charge arising from an operation directed at the New IRA. His lawyer states that the charge is the result of entrapment.
Dr Bassalat suffers from a number of health problems. The most pressing of these is a neurological problem resulting from a disk prolapse. This is causing him continuous severe pain in his right leg. In connection with this, he attended an outside hospital for an MRI scan on 15 September.
On return to Maghaberry he was placed in isolation for 14 days in Foyle House as a covid19 prevention measure. As he had previously undergone 14 days of isolation on arrival at Maghaberry, this meant that he had to endure 4 weeks of isolation with only a short break.
Dr Bassalat found the accommodation in Foyle House to be in very poor condition. It provided no opportunity for the exercise needed to mitigate his pain. He protested against his treatment and a number of prisoners embarked on a hunger strike in solidarity with him.
Dr Bassalat continues to suffer continuous severe pain in his right leg despite taking the maximum dose of painkillers. He has noted very marked atrophy of the right calf muscle. He is at risk of permanent impairment if the problem is not addressed. Dr Bassalat is now due for a further visit to hospital. If he attends the hospital we understand that he will once again be required to undergo 14 days isolation in Foyle House. He believes that this will put his health at further risk. We share this view.
Dr Bassalat is asking for arrangements to be made for a neurologist to visit him in HMP Maghaberry.
We believe that it is imperative that Dr Bassalat receives specialist medical attention, and that isolation in Foyle House presents an unacceptable and unnecessary risk to his health. We are therefore asking you to facilitate Dr Bassalat’s request for a visit from a suitable specialist.
Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC), Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), Muslim Women's Association of Edinburgh (MWAE), Aamer Anwar (solicitor and human rights campaigner, Glasgow), Dr Colin Cooper (Edinburgh), Yousef Qandeel (London), Dr Majed Dibsi (politólogo y jurista), Zakut Salah (Chairman of Rule Arabic House, Kiev), Dr Zakariya Jaber (Kiev), Jaldia Abubakra (Spain), Khaled Barakat (Canada), Daniel Lobato Bellido (Spain), Sandra Lubbad (Spain), David Bensellam Gomez (Spain), Abed Alzerei (Tunis), Khaled Alraheb (UAE), Hatem Mohtaseb (USA), Dr Fawzi Ismail (Italy), Ms Gail Mackenzie (Hospital Discharge Health & Support Worker for Glasgow City Council), Miss Theresa McLaughlin (Charge Nurse - NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde)
Report by Channel 4 News (9 minutes), 21 October 2020