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HRW slams German ban of Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah

Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah was barred entry into Germany from speaking at a Palestine solidarity conference in Berlin [GETTY]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the German government to explain whether it has imposed a Schengen-wide entry ban on prominent Palestinian surgeon and activist Dr. Ghassan Abu Sittah.

The ban means that a non-citizen is expelled from one member state and is prevented from returning to the whole Schengen area, which consists of 26 European countries, for up to five years or longer.

“Dr. Ghassan Abu Sittah has seen first-hand the atrocities taking place in Gaza,” Yasmine Ahmed, UK Director at HRW, said.

“Germany should immediately explain why it has denied him entry and imposed this far-reaching ban on a leading health professional to speak in Berlin, Paris, and The Hague about what he witnessed in Gaza.”

Ahmed also called on the UK government to “raise the reported ban with their German counterparts.”

The call comes after Dr. Sittah was denied entry to France on 4 May, where he was due to speak at the French Senate about Gaza. According to Dr. Sittah, Charles De Gaulle airport authorities told him that Germany had banned his entry into Europe for a year.

On 9 May officials in the Netherlands told the Palestinian Ambassador that Dr. Sittah would not be allowed to enter the country to give a talk on 15 May.

Additionally, on 12 April, the doctor was denied entry into Germany to speak at a Palestine solidarity conference in Berlin, the capital.

Dr. Sittah worked in Gaza’s hospitals during the outbreak of Israel’s war on the enclave and has since given evidence to the UK’s Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit in London, which is gathering evidence for an ICC investigation into war crimes committed during the war.

The banning of Dr. Ghassan Abu Sittah follows Germany’s ban on Yanis Varoufakis’s entry. Varoufakis has since announced he is taking the government to court over the ban.

He said he was doing so “primarily to defend the right of German citizens to know who accuses them, when, and under what rationale – information that the German state has scandalously denied me on the grounds of ‘national security’!”

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