[Ppnews] Khader Adnans Hunger Strike
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 17 12:09:16 EST 2012
Weekend Edition February 17-19, 2012
Valiance in the Face of Cruelty
Khader Adnans Hunger Strike
by CHARLOTTE SILVER
A month ago only those who had met him knew
Khader Adnan. Now all of Palestine and people
across the world know his name and his cause.
Before December 17, when Khader was arrested for
the eighth time from his home in Jenin, he was
one of thousands of Palestinians living in the
Occupied Territories who had entered and re-entered administrative detention.
Administrative detention allows Israel to hold
Palestinian prisoners without charging them, and
potentially indefinitely. There is no
specification as to why each person is held and
the length of the detention has no legal limits.
In its very essence administrative detention is
dehumanizing; its effects are to homogenize the
Palestinian population and strip each man, woman
and family that encounters it of his or her
singularity and personal identity. Each person
who enters administrative detention is the same
as the one who came before, and the one who will
follow. This endless cycle of incarceration
paints all those who pass through it with the
same brush, rendering the Palestinian population indistinct.
The essence of totalitarian government and
perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to
make functionaries and mere cogs in the
administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them.
Hannah Arendt wrote these words after observing
the trial of Nazi leader, Adolf Eichmann, in
Jerusalem. What is perhaps so remarkable about
this sentence is the ambiguity of whom she is
speaking. Arendts words note that both the
oppressors and the oppressed become agents of, or
cogs in, a regime of totalitarianism. In this
understanding, there is no room in a system of oppression for individuals.
But Khaders unbearably long hunger strike has
stopped this process, clearing the fog of
bureaucracy that turns humans beings into
mechanisms allowing them to disappear into the
monochromatic fabric of administrated tyranny.
He told his lawyers, I am a man who defends his
freedom. If I die it will be my fate.
Khader is a graduate student of Economics, a
father of two girls, a husband to Randa, who is
pregnant with their third child, and a member of
Islamic Jihad. He is a political activist and a
baker at a pita shop, Qabatiya, near his home in Jenin.
We cannot know the internal process by which
Khader came to his decision to engage in a hunger
strike that may end his life. He began the strike
as soon as he was detained, so it seems certain
that he was neither surprised that he was
detained yet again, nor unprepared for a different and meaningful response.
In a letter he wrote from an Israeli hospital on
day fifty-six of his strike, Khader stated, The
Israeli occupation has gone to extremes against
our people, especially prisoners. I have been
humiliated, beaten, and harassed by interrogators
for no reason, and thus I swore to God I would
fight the policy of administrative detention to
which I and hundreds of my fellow prisoners fell prey.
But we do know that when Khader entered
administrative detention on 17 December, he made
the decision to interrupt the routine of
administrative detention, a system whose banality defines its power.
His reaction, to go on hunger strike, marked a
radical departure from obediently waiting out his
sentence, as the steady stream of Palestinian
detainees had done before him. After Khader
refused his meal, Israeli soldiers proceeded to
beat him, rip hair from his beard, smear dirt
from a soldiers shoe onto his face, force him
into painful stress positions and verbally
degrade female members of his family.
Even as Khader nears the end of his sixty-second
day, the weakened man remains shackled to his
hospital bed by both his feet and one handin a
strange and symbolic recognition of how
threatening and powerful this act truly is.
The might of Khaders humanity and his valiance
in the face of cruelty will not be met with a
just response. There is no just response a master
can give to a slavefor justice would see the end
of the master/slave relationship. And while
Khaders strike will not and cannot lead to the
end of Israeli tyranny over Palestinians, it is
certainly a profound denial of its power to erase the humanity of Palestinians.
Khader has shown the face of a Palestinian. He
has etched his name onto the hearts and thoughts
of all who became aware of his plight, and in his
quiet, agonizing determination he shows the world
the man who Israel murdered with its savage
weapon of administrative detention. That is a
profound feat and for it, we owe Khader Adnan our deepest gratitude.
Charlotte Silver is a journalist based in
Ramallah, West Bank and currently the editor of
The Palestine Monitor. Her work has appeared in
Al Jazeera English, Al Akhbar English,Truthout
and other publications. She can be reached at
<mailto:charlottesilver at gmail.com>charlottesilver@<mailto:charlottesilver at gmail.com>gmail.com
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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