Sarraj, Eyad El- (1944–)

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SARRAJ, EYAD EL- (1944–)

Palestinian psychiatrist and human rights activist, born in Beersheba in 1944; fled with his family to the Gaza Strip in 1948. Sarraj attended schools in Gaza, earned a medical degree at Alexandria University, a degree in psychology from the University of London and a doctorate at Harvard. Sarraj worked as a pediatrician and as a psychiatrist in Gaza and Bethlehem, and headed Mental Health Services in Gaza in 1981–1988. In 1989–1991, during the first Intifada (1987–1993), he took up a fellowship in the Refugee Studies Program at Oxford. Sarraj is the chairman of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP), which he founded in 1991. (The GCMHP provides services for those traumatized by the military occupation; its eight clinics are said to have treated ten percent of the population of the Gaza Strip.) As a prominent Palestinian human rights activist, he has criticized the policies and practices of both the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority (PA). As a public critic of Yasir Arafat, Sarraj has been jailed by the PA several times, tortured and threatened; in 1996 an international campaign was mounted to force the PA to release him. He is the author of numerous articles in newspapers and on the Internet, and travels frequently to lecture and promote the cause of human rights in Palestine and in the Arab world. Sarraj is on the board of commissioners of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights (PICCR), and was its general commissioner (chairman) from 1995 to 2002. He is a member of the International Federation of Physicians for Human Rights, the International Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, and the Campaign against Torture.

SEE ALSO Arafat, Yasir;Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP);Gaza Strip;Intifada (1987–1993);Palestinian Authority;Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights.