Samer Issawi, the Palestinian political prisoner in Israeli incarceration who is on the longest continuous hunger strike recorded so far, has today entered his 203rd day of refusing food. This morning, his laywer Fawaz el Shaloudy spoke to him, and Samer said: “I swear that I will continue this strike, either to victory or martyrdom. I am almost at the end of the tunnel; either the light of freedom awaits, or the light of martyrdom. There is no third option.”
As Al Akhbar reports, Samer is currently in critical condition, having started his hunger strike in July 2012. Earlier this month, he stopped taking vitamins and water, and now weighs less than 47 kilograms, vomiting blood, suffering from loss of vision, and fainting regularly.
Yesterday, social media were alive with rumors that Samer had passed away. Fortunately, these rumors were proven not to be true, after a phone call by Abbas Hamideh of the Free Samer Issawi Campaign, who spoke to Samer’s brother. ‘Israel’ doesn’t only target Samer, but also his family. Daleen Al Shaer, also of the Free Samer Issawi campaign, told Al Akhbar that the family is subjected to continuous harassment by Israeli occupation forces. Besides demolishing Samer’s brother’s home in January, they have cut off the water supply to his sister’s home.
Campaigns continued on Twitter, with social media activists causing Samer’s cause to trend worldwide on a daily basis. The image shows both Samer Issawi and the propagated hashtag #Opdignity trending on the Worldwide list. Despite the huge number of people participating in these trending campaigns, giving visibility to an issue that is shockingly under-reported about in regular media, no major news networks so far have decided to investigate the situation and report on it. Nevertheless, every day at 2 pm EST / 7 pm GMT / 9 pm Palestinian time, activists will continue to make new efforts to make sure that all those on Twitter are made aware of the huge popular backing that Samer Issawi has.
In the mean time, attention is also called to other Palestinian hunger strikers such as Ayman Sharawneh, Jafar Azzedine (who has threatened to also refuse water and vitamins, according to Al Akhbar) and Tariq Qa’adan. Their cause deserves attention, and an increasing number of human rights activists are joining the campaigns for their freedom.
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