[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?


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 
this month.

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 
charged Issawi.)

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 
within <http://www.foa.org.uk/campaigns/action-alert-save-samer-issawi> 
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 
<http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Amnesty_International> and 
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.

Nossel emphasized 
that at the top of Amnesty's list was "defense of Israel," despite 
Israel's long list of violent aggression 
<http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/reigniting.html>, ethnic 
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 
significant cases.

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 
<http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/contacts/> (202-663-1848 
<tel:%28202-663-1848>) and Associated Press 
<mailto:http://www.ap.org/company/contact-us> (212.621.1500 

/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>./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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