This year the Palestinian struggle is marked by the actions of courageous Palestinian individuals in Israeli detention, who are protesting against their imprisonment without due process by awe-inspiring hunger strikes. Despite the world’s mass media’s attempts to keep attention to the issue limited, the actions of human rights organizations, social media activists and other individuals all over the world have managed to make the voices of the hunger strikers heard by the global community. Akram al Rikhawi – who is entering his 79th day of hunger strike – and Samer al Barq and Hassan Safadi deserve such action today.
Although thousands of Palestinian prisoners went on a mass hunger strike in April and May, a few names of hunger strikers have managed to become engraved into Palestinian history. Khader Adnan, Hanaa al Shalaby and Mahmoud al Sarsak have all become household names in Palestinian communities all over the world. They impressed friend and foe by their determination to resist against their baseless incarceration, by denying themselves food for such long periods that they ended up breaking world records.
Of these mentioned above, Mahmoud al Sarsak is still in prison today, although the Israeli authorities were pressured into striking a deal for his release after a mind-boggling 93 days of hunger strike. He is slated to be released on July 10 – if the Zionists indeed hold their promise. Violating truces and agreements is almost standard practice in their modus operandi, as is illustrated by what happened to Samer al Barq, whose administrative detention orders were renewed on May 22, in violation of the agreement that ended the mass hunger strike on May 14th.
The same happened to Hassan Safadi, who had engaged in a hunger strike for an impressive 71 days, and restarted his hunger strike on June 21 when he learned that his administrative detention orders were renewed. Samer al Barq has also recommenced his hunger strike, and is now on the 40th day of his second strike.
The hunger strike of Akram al Rikhawi is marked by some extra concerns, due to chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and kidney problems. On top of this, Akram has been refusing to take i.v. fluids and vitamins, sustaining himself only on water. Recently, his condition has deteriorated to the extent that even his water consumption is jeopardized by his physical weakness.
Akram, father of five daughters and three sons, has been held in Ramleh prison since he was arrested in 2004. He was only allowed to be seen by a doctor one time, on June 6th, since he started his hunger strike. His family has not been able to visit him since 2006. Typically, the Israeli authorities have not kept their promise of allowing family visits to Gaza prisoners within one month after the agreement.
In the same way as was done for Khader Adnan, Hanaa al Shalaby and Mahmoud al Sarsak, it is imperative that mass campaigns must be waged for Akram al Rikhawi and the other hunger strikers. A wonderful example of such a campaign is the football-themed film that was made by Abdelkarim El-Fassi in support of Mahmoud al Sarsak. Such initiatives help draw attention to the plight of these victims of Zionist racism and incarceration. Watch the film here, and visit the website.
Palestinian prisoners are left without any means to resist the injustice of their incarceration except by refusing to take food. We, the world community, can empower their struggle by forcing mass media to focus attention on their ordeal. Until now, such actions were able to help prevent the untimely death of these courageous individuals, and force the Israeli authorities to choose leniency towards the prisoners over damage to their public image.
We must make noise, in any possible way we can. We must become the voice of the hunger strikers and the other political prisoners, that shouts out loud across the globe. It must be a call for freedom and justice, since these are the values that people like Akram al Rikhawi, Samer al Barq and Hassan Safadi are laying their lives on the line for. Their courage must result in an end to the inhumane Israeli practices of administrative detention, torture of prisoners and wanton arrests of Palestinian civilians. In order to make this happen, our support is needed. ACT NOW !
For more information, visit Addameer.org.
A journal published by Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights | June 26, 2012
“On Torture” is an edited volume of essays by Palestinian, Israeli and international legal and medical experts and practitioners based on presentations that they gave during a workshop held in Jerusalem in April 2011 entitled, “Securing Accountability for Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (CIDT) in Israel: New Trends and Comparative Lessons”.
The essayists explore the history of torture in Israel, the daily challenges that practitioners face in seeking accountability for torture and CIDT in Israel, and the changing face of torture.
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|Palestinian Prisoners Special Topic|
|Palestinian Prisoners -Category|
|The History of Israeli Torture - Topic|
|Child Arrests – Topic|
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|Palestinian Hunger Strikers: A History|
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