Eyad Sarraj: Profile

Dr Eyad Sarraj is a Palestinian psychiatrist, and founder and medical director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP).

    Eyad Sarraj helps Palestinain victims of torture

    His organisation's mission largely involves providing for the rehabilitation of torture victims and the large number of people affected by the upheaval of the Intifada (uprising) and the Israeli violence used to quell it.

    Sarraj, who has also protested against the actions of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its alleged violations of human rights in the occupied territories, is renowned internationally for speaking out against corruption and calling for genuine reforms.

    Sarraj is a member of the International Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims and is on the co-coordinating committee of the Campaign against Torture Victims.

    Head of rights group

    Locally, aside from his practice in psychiatry and work with GCMHP, he is the chairman of the Palestinian Independent Commission of Citizens' Rights, a group that has been critical of the Israeli occupation and its practices against Palestinians and also of the PA itself.

    Sarraj has been an outspoken
    critic of the Palestinian Authority

    He has been arrested three times in recent years by PA police. Sarraj said that he was tortured while in prison and was threatened with death.

    The distinguished Palestinian human rights activist, who  attained a PhD in psychology from Harvard University, is a columnist in Arabic and English in various local and international newspapers.

    Sarraj has called repeatedly for reforms in the ranks of the PA and throughout the Arab world.

    Speaking up

    Regarding local reforms, he maintains that the PA must espouse a strict separation between the judicial and executive branches.

    "Some Arab politicians are scared of reform because it means that they would be out of office and maybe out of pocket if not in jail"

    In a recent commentary titled, A Letter to President Bush, he discussed the issue of reform in the Arab world, arguing:

    "Some Arab politicians are scared of reform because it means that they would be out of office and maybe out of pocket if not in jail. They use any excuse to reject it, such as reform should not be imposed from the outside.''

    However, he continued: "To begin with, it is vital that you [Bush] treat the Arabs as partners and not just an area of oil reserves. Why not give us a good example by reforming the US policies?"

    US legitimacy 

    "Would it not be beautiful if America began to show respect for international legality, including respect for United Nations Security Council resolutions and ratifying the treaties on the protection of the environment?

    "Would it not be encouraging if America stopped being one of a minority of two on the international stage – itself and Israel against the rest of the world?"

    He concludes, commenting on the US government-envisaged reforms: "Mr President I want to tell you an Arab popular proverb. It says: 'He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones at others.'"

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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