[Ppnews] Are They Just Waiting for Samer Issawi to Die?
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Feb 13 16:29:53 EST 2013
Feb 13, 2013
A Note to AP and Amnesty International
Are They Just Waiting for Samer Issawi to Die?
by ALISON WEIR
Samer Issawi has lived
for 33 years, 1 month, and 27 days. I hope he lives another day.
He has been on a hunger strike now for six and a half months. Gandhis'
longest hunger strike was 21 days.
The IRA's Bobby Sands and nine other Irish hunger strikers died
in 1981 after strikes lasting from 46 to 73 days.
Issawi's internal organs are starting to shut down, he can no longer
walk, he is reportedly
suffering loss of vision and vomiting blood, it is difficult for him
talk, and he is increasingly near death. He has lost over half his body
One of the main ideas <http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/bono.html>
behind such nonviolent resistance is that world awareness will bring
pressure on behalf of the sufferer.
Yet, U.S. news outlets are not covering Issawi's hunger strike. It
appears that the Associated Press has not run a single news story on
Issawi's strike and refuses to answer queries on the subject.
AP's lack of reporting on the situation is even more inexplicable given
that there has been an international campaign on Issawi's behalf.
There have been banner drops in Washington, D.C, Chicago, Cleveland,
Austin, and other parts of the world; demonstrations and vigils in
numerous cities; and Issawi's plight has made it onto Twitter's
world-trending list at least four times
The alleged "crime" for which Issawi is being imprisoned and may die --
there has been no trial -- is for having allegedly traveled outside
Jerusalem. Issawi is one of the Palestinian prisoners released in a
prisoner exchange in 2011, and such movement, Israel says, violated the
terms of that release. (It is unclear whether Israel has formally
However, Issawi supporters point out that Issawi's "travel" was to an
area near Hizma, and Israel does not appear to dispute this, bringing
into question Israel's claimed reason for incarcerating him: Hizma is
Jerusalem's municipal borders.
Israeli is holding Issawi under "administrative detention
<http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=293>," a system by which
Israel holds Palestinian men, women, and even children for as long as
the Israeli government wishes without trials or charges; sometimes for
decades. Since 2000 Israel has reportedly
issued 20,000 such detention orders.
In response to Issawi's hunger strike, Israel has begun punishing his
family. Israel arrested
his sister for a period and reportedly
cut off water to her house. In early July the Israeli army demolished
his brother's home.
It is difficult to think that if an Israeli soldier were held by
Palestinians that the Associated Press would not run a single story
about it. (AP ran many dozens of stories on Israeli tank gunner Gilad
Shalit when he was held in Gaza.)
It is even more difficult to imagine that if an Israeli held by
Palestinians (none are) had been on a hunger strike -- let alone one
that had lasted months and put him near death -- the person would not
have been the subject of a single AP report.
Moreover, Issawi is just one of a multitude
of Palestinian hunger strikers, almost all ignored by U.S. media.
Another, Ayman Sharawna <http://www.imemc.org/article/64519>, whose fast
was interrupted for a short period, has been on a strike that, in total,
is even longer that Issawi's.
*Amnesty International has also been inexplicably negligent.*
I have just been informed that Amnesty International plans to issue an
announcement about Issawi today. If it does so, this will be its first
one on Issawi. In fact, during a hunger strike that lasted over six
months, queries to Amnesty and searches of both the American and British
websites, have turned up only one mention of him -- in the last
paragraph of an alert
about other prisoners posted on the British site. It is not on the U.S.
Phone calls and emails over the past week to Amnesty's Washington DC,
New York, and London offices failed to elicit any information on Issawi
or Amnesty's decision not to alert the public to his situation.
(Finally, unable to obtain a response from Amnesty, a few days ago I
posted their lack of coverage on Facebook.)
While pro-Israel groups constantly attack Amnesty for insufficiently
taking the Israeli line, in reality Amnesty's record on the Middle East,
North Africa, and Afghanistan is often significantly at odds with the
organization's work on behalf of prisoners and human rights in other areas.
There have been analyses
objections to Amnesty actions
that appeared to, in the words of one article, "shill for Mideast Wars
Its executive director Suzanne Nossel spoke in favor of what she termed
"hard force," e.g. wars.
that at the top of Amnesty's list was "defense of Israel," despite
Israel's long list of violent aggression
and human rights violations
Nossel blasted <http://bloggingheads.tv/videos/2521?in=11:30&out=15:10>
the UN report
on Gaza's 2008-9 <http://ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/gazafactsheet.html>
massacre in Gaza as "not supported by facts," despite massive evidence
both in that report and and many others
that its statements about Israel were quite accurate, if not slightly
tilted toward Israel
A lengthy article
in /CounterPunch/ examined Amnesty's emphasis (and inaccurate coverage)
on the Pussy Riot issue, and compared this to Amnesty's lack of coverage
on the incarceration of whistle blower Julian Assange and on other
A 1988 analysis
on human rights organizations' work on Israel-Palestine found a number
of shortcomings in Amnesty's work, and in January 2012 Dutch-English
writer Paul de Rooij complained of Amnesty's "double standards" on
Palestinian human rights.
In an email exchange
with Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa
Programme, de Rooij wrote that Amnesty's "unwillingness to publish
lists" of Palestinian Prisoners of Conscience and the extreme rarity of
applying this designation to Palestinian prisoners "indicate that
Palestinians can't expect much from Amnesty International."
De Rooij continued: "The brutal treatment and dispossession of
Palestinians has been going on for decades; the situation is chronic and
it has been systematic. But check for yourself in Amnesty's reports or
press releases: when was the last time that AI unambiguously indicated
that Israeli actions amounted to crimes against humanity?"
De Rooij answered his own question: "You can count such instances with
less than half the fingers on your hand."
Susanne Nossel left Amnesty in January of this year and her replacement
has not yet been chosen, so it is possible that its actions will change.
In the meantime, Samer Issawi's life seems to be hanging by a thread.
Since Americans give Israel over $8 million per day
<http://ifamericansknew.org/stats/cost.html>, our tax money is helping
to fund Israel's actions. Those who wish to prevent at least one tragic
death may wish to make their opinion known to the U.S. State Department
<tel:%28202-663-1848>) and Associated Press
/The name is also sometimes given as Samer Al-Issawi or Al-Eesawy. /
/*Alison Weir* is executive director of If Americans Knew
<http://ifamericansknew.org/> and president of the Council for the
National Interest <http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org/>. She
can be reached at contact at ifamericansknew.org
<mailto:contact at ifamericansknew.org>./
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