[Ppnews] After 83 Days on Hunger Strike, Palestinian Detainee in Serious Condition

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 2 12:45:45 EDT 2012

After 83 Days on Hunger Strike, Detainee in Serious Condition


  Monday July 02, 2012 04:32
 by UFree Network

Diabetic Palestinian prisoner Akram Rikhawi has been on a hunger 
strike for 83 days and is at imminent risk of dying. According to the 
World Medical Association, in most cases death occurs between 42nd 
and 72nd days of hunger strike.

Rikhawi suffers from various chronic conditions: diabetes, asthma, 
osteoporosis, kidney problems, deterioration of his eye lenses, high 
cholesterol, and immune deficiency.

Due to these pre-existing conditions Rikhawi's hunger strike has been 
even harder on his body. He was already in fragile condition a month 
ago. Now he is in a coma and his condition is deteriorating fast.

Akram Rikhawi went on hunger strike on April 12 when he was not 
granted early release on the basis of his medical condition and 
social circumstances. (He has 8 biological children and 5 adoptive children.)

He has requested for early release twice: in 2010, and on 5 June 
2012. Every prisoner is entitled to ask to be considered for early 
release when at least two thirds of their sentence has been served. 
In all discussions, these factors were disregarded and a file with 
'secret information' was the only material considered.

Rikhawi, a Palestinian from Gaza, was arrested by Israeli occupation 
forces in 2004 and sentenced to 9 years' imprisonment by a military court.

During his hunger strike Rikhawi has only seen an independent doctor 
once, on June 6, 2012. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) has 
made numerous requests to gain access to Rikhawi, but Israeli 
authorities continually deny their requests.

The situation for independent doctors to visit patients has gotten 
worse since the hunger strikes began earlier this spring. Now they 
have to apply for permission through the courts for every single 
visit and the courts often deny, delay and obstruct their work. This 
prevents the prisoners from receiving proper medical care in line 
with their basic, and internationally recognized, human rights.

Following the visit on June 6, the PHR-I doctor reported that 
Rikhawi's weight had decreased from 68 kilos to 50 kilos, a total 
loss of 26.5 percent. The doctor further determined that a 
combination of inflammation of prior chronic illnesses and the 
complications of hunger strike rendered hospitalisation immediately 
necessary, as he was at immediate risk of death.

The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) medical centre is not a hospital, 
and according to the PHR-I it is not properly equipped to handle the 
physical deterioration and effects of long-term hunger strike.

Rikhawi has been held in the IPS medical unit in Ramleh ever since 
his initial arrest. On 14 June 2012 the Israeli District Court 
rejected a PHR-I appeal to transfer him to a civilian hospital 
despite his critical condition.

The decision was based on a medical opinion of the IPS that denies 
that his life is in danger. According to the PHR-I, 'this opinion is 
in complete contradiction to the one of the independent doctor, and 
is not referring to any medical data on which it is based. It also 
does not relate to the opinion of the independent doctor and the 
risks it cites.'

Last week Rikhawi was briefly hospitalised to a civilian hospital 
several times, but returned to Ramleh prison clinic. This moving back 
and forth a patient in such a critical condition could also amount to 
a medical neglect. Akram has also been shackled to his hospital bed 
with three limbs, even though he is in a very critical condition.

On Tuesday 19 June, an Addameer lawyer, Ms. Neddaf, noted following 
her visit to Ramleh prison medical clinic that Rikhawi was extremely 
tired, weak and weighed only 49 kilos.

Furthermore, since 16 June, he has been refusing any vitamins and 
fluids through an IV. (The IPS doctors' threats to force-feed and 
force-treat him, in addition to their determination not to recommend 
his medical condition as worthy of earlier release from prison, has 
led Rikhawi to regard them with deep distrust.)

Though he is sustaining himself on water alone, Ms. Neddaf was 
troubled to observe that even drinking water was very difficult for 
him and he was only able to consume approximately one litre per day.

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