[Ppnews] Palestinian detainees empty stomachs are stronger than their jailers
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Apr 23 10:45:06 EDT 2012
Palestinian detainees empty stomachs are stronger than their jailers
Submitted by Shahd Abusalama on Sun, 04/22/2012 - 00:03
Khader Adnan took the heavy weight of 320
prisoners held in Israeli administrative
detention without charge or trial on his
shoulders. He went on hunger strike for a record
66 days to protest this unjust policy.
His battle of an empty stomach wasnt only a
reminder to free souls around the world that we
are real people who deserve free and dignified
lives, but also a message to those who share his
suffering and injustice that they have a weapon
stronger than the jailers arms: determination.
Hana al-Shalabi followed in his steps and starved
herself for 44 days. After confronting Israels
inhumane policies, Khader and Hana have become
symbols of defiance and sources of inspiration
and strength for our political prisoners to continue resisting injustice.
More heroes have arisen behind bars. Bilal Diab,
a 27-year-old man from Jenin, is one of them. In
2003, he was imprisoned for 80 months.
After completing his sentence, he was re-arrested
aggressively after midnight less than a year
after his release, causing panic among neighbors.
Then he received an administrative detention
order for six months on 25 August 2011, based on
secret information which neither Bilal nor his
lawyer were permitted to see, leaving him no
other lawful means to defend himself.
According to his detention order, he was supposed
to be released on 25 February. But it was
renewed, leading Bilal to rebel and defend
himself by launching an open-ended hunger strike.
Azzam Diab, Bilals brother who was sentenced to
life, is on the 23rd day of his hunger strike in
solidarity with his brother Bilal. It is hard to
imagine how their mother manages to remain strong
while two of her sons are inside Israels prisons. Both are dying to live.
Thaer Halahla, 34-years-old, from Hrsan, near
Hebron, is another hunger striker who joined
Bilal on the same day, 29 February, to protest
the renewal of an administrative detention order
against him. Thaer was re-arrested after two
weeks of his marriage. He had previously been
held under administrative detention four times.
His imprisonment forced him to leave his pregnant
wife and baby girl behind. His 22-month-old
daughter was born while he was in prison, and she
has never had a chance to meet her father. At the
beginning of January 2012, his administrative
detention order was extended a third consecutive
time for an additional six months. Desperate to
be free, re-unite with his family, and hug his
daughter for the first time, he has been on hunger strike 55 days so far.
Addameer, the prisoners rights organization,
reported that on 21 March, Bilal and Thaer were
transferred to the medical center in Ramle prison
after their health began to deteriorate. Both are
currently being held in isolated cells, suffer
from medical neglect under difficult
conditions. Thaers lawyer stated that he saw
him vomiting blood from his nose and mouth and
that he has difficulty speaking. As for Bilal,
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel)
noted that after losing consciousness a number
of times, Mr Diab was hospitalized twice at Assaf
Harofeh Hospital, but was subsequently returned
to [Ramle prison medical center].
Eight other prisoners have reached dangerous
stages of their hunger strikes, including Haddan
Safadi (49 days), Omar Abu Shalal (47 days),
Jaafar Azzedine (32 days), and Ahmad Saqer, the
longest-held administrative detainee (36 days).
Resistance against the administrative detention
policy inside prisons has also taken other forms.
Mohammed Suleiman, a thalassemia patient, is
refusing medical treatment to protest an
administrative detention order that has been
renewed three times. He also refuses to take blood tests.
Three other administrative detainees have also
been moved to Ramle prison medical center: Hassan
Safadi, Omar Abu Shalal and Jaafar Azzedine, on
their 45th, 43rd, and 28th days of hunger strike
respectively. Ahmad Saqer, the longest-held
current administrative detainee, is on the 32nd day of his hunger strike.
On Prisoners Day (17 April) Palestinian
political prisoners in Israeli prisons launched a
mass hunger strike after a wave of individual
hunger strikes over the past few months. This
collective hunger strike follows the 22-day
campaign of disobedience and mass hunger strike,
launched at the end of September 2011 to protest
cruel conditions and an escalating series of
punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners
such as solitary confinement, a ban on visits
from family and lawyers, and confiscations of
prisoners possessions. The Israeli Prison
Service promised to meet prisoners demands
within three months if they ended their hunger
strike. Six months have passed without any
change. So prisoners have re-launched their
hunger strikes to demand their most basic rights.
A strikers diary
Loai Odeh, a former prisoner and my best friend,
whom I am very proud to have met after his
release, joined that campaign of disobedience
until the prisoner swap deal between Israel and
Hamas on 18 October. Then he was released, and
expelled from Jerusalem to Gaza after 10 years of
imprisonment. Since his release, the prisoners he
left behind have been his main concern. He always
attends events in solidarity with them. He has
been my main resource every time I had a question
or needed to enrich my knowledge about prisoners conditions.
While following his posts on Facebook, I noticed
that he had written new status updates taking
the form of a strikers diaries while recalling
his experience. This surprised me, as it has
seldom happened since he opened his account. The
diary of the fourth day was the most touching and
important for everyone to read, so I want to
share it in the hope that it will encourage readers to act.
Today is the fourth day of challenge and
championship, Loai wrote. Today, silence begins
to spread all over. By now, the striker tends to
be silent and stop talking. All the voices around
him seem loud. He becomes unable to join their
discussions. As days pass, his ability to hear
voices shrinks, expect for these which lift the
spirit up and strengthens souls and
hearts. These voices are mainly the ones that
bring news about popular support for their
battle. This news becomes the source of energy,
the strongest motivation for them to remain steadfast.
Israels attempts to demoralize prisoners and break their strikes
Discussing the typical response to hunger strikes
from the Israeli Prison Service, he stated, Our
enemy is fully aware of that. Israel spells its
fascist generosity against our heroes. They set
up speakers and raise the volume to its loudest,
constantly playing Hebrew music and news that
will depress their spirits. They also distribute
special news about them, like claims about the
declining number of hunger strikers and names of
those who have broken their fasts. They also do
their best to give hunger strikers the impression
that life outside is moving on normally and no one there cares about them.
However, all these inhumane attempts fail once a
prisoner returns from a visit with his lawyer to
tell them about popular events held locally and
internationally to support them and their just
cause, he said. So dont ever underestimate
any activity you do, as they have small, smuggled
radios with which they follow the news. Even
childrens protests increase their inner
determination to achieve their goals, as they
feel that their responsibilities have broadened
to include children, the future generation, who
have spiritually joined their battle.
He ended by saying, We have faith in your
ability to win and we are with you until victory!
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