[Ppnews] "My family is living through hell:" Samer Issawi speaks from jail

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 10 10:29:21 EST 2013

  "My family is living through hell:" Samer Issawi speaks from jail

Submitted by Shahd Abusalama on Thu, 01/10/2013

I can't kick the bad habit of biting my fingers when I'm stressed 
despite my constant attempts. My forefinger is swollen due to this habit 
and it really hurts; the cold weather makes it worse. The pain was 
intolerable this morning and it made me cry, but I quickly wiped my 
tears. I felt ashamed to think that our hero Samer Issawi suffers pains 
incomprehensible to the human mind.

However, he makes us all proud as he continues to fight injustice. His 
body has broken the limits of hunger. His hunger has broken the silence 
and will help defeat Israel's injustice and oppression.

As the rain pounds continuously and the winds howl uncontrollably, Samer 
Issawi dominates my mind. I think back to my 24 hours of hunger strike 
on Monday, which caused me a terrible headache leaving me unable to 
focus on my studies for my final exams; I observe how very few people 
walk outside and how even fewer cars drive past my house. Then I think 
of Samer and I can't but look to him with utter admiration and respect - 
proud of his shocking ability to refuse food for 168 days. My admiration 
for him made me give Samer's dire situation priority over my studies and 
draw him a portrait.

Mum shot this picture of me right after I finished the drawing.

(Halima Louz <http://electronicintifada.net/people/halima-louz>)
How painful it is to imagine him now... to imagine how much he endures 
from Israel's constant oppression, medical neglect, pain, hunger and 
cold. Personally, I can hardly leave my warm bed to go to the bathroom. 
I'm studying and typing away with trembling fingers while I lie under 
three heavy blankets. But Samer suffers in the cold. Mum takes very good 
care of me; she even brings me food to my bed so I don't have to stop my 
studies and leave this warmth. But Samer suffers alone. Those around him 
aren't there to ease his pain but to make him suffer more. He finds no 
one to comfort him. Instead, he is relentlessly harassed.

Nonetheless, while I'm cosy in bed, my thoughts are torn between my 
books and Samer Issawi. I can't help but travel in my thoughts to Samer: 
lying in a cold, dirty, narrow solitary cell in Ramleh prison hospital, 
described often as a "slaughterhouse." Starvation makes the hunger 
striker feel cold despite the weather.


Samer can barely stand on his feet and hardly turn his body on his 
/borsh --- /a bed of metal that has a very thin mattress, which my 
father and friends who are ex-detainees often complained caused back-pains.

In winter, one of the most brutal practices that the Israeli Prison 
Service uses to oppress our prisoners is depriving them from their 
winter needs such as heavy blankets and warm clothes, often even 
depriving them of hot water. As a result, Samer's sister Shireen worries 
about him more heavily. "The sky is snowing in Jerusalem," Samer's 
sister Shireen has said. "But unlike others, the happiness of seeing the 
layers of snow covering everything escapes me. When one has a little 
wound, its pain increases in cold weather. So imagine the situation of 
Samer who is hunger striking for 168 days and left without blankets or 
heavy clothes. Imagine him after he was physically attacked by the 
savage Israeli soldiers, causing him fractures in the rib cage. These 
are unbearable pains that one can hardly endure. But Samer lives and 
suffers these pains every moment, every day."

He is shackled from his hands and feet to his bed or his wheelchair, and 
left with no means to defend himself. All this doesn't deter the Israeli 
soldiers from repeatedly beating him up. Israel tried every inhumane way 
to put pressure on Samer Issawi to end his strike. He wasn't the only 
target of this inhumanity: his family, his people in the village 
Issawiyeh, even sit-in tents installed in solidarity with him were 
targeted as well.

Israeli bulldozers recently demolished the house of Samer's brother that 
was under construction and left it as rubble. But they couldn't break 
his brother's resilience. Instead he was thankful he didn't meet the 
fate of other Palestinians who had their houses demolished while they 
were inside, burying them alive.


Moreover, Israeli forces get a sadistic pleasure in making the heart of 
Samer's mother burn in worry over her sons and daughter. They arrested 
her son, Fares and her daughter Shireen several times and called them to 
the investigation centers on numerous occasions. Raising Samer's voice 
to break the racist walls and reach beyond his cell to the hearts of 
humans of conscience was their only offense. The Israeli occupation 
forces attacked Samer's house several times and couldn't care less 
whether they raided the house at noon or after midnight. Moreover, 
Israel has cut the water supply to his family's house. They enjoy making 
them live in panic day and night. Isn't it painful enough for her to 
watch her son Samer dying every day?

Samer gets updates about his family through his lawyer. "With all the 
pressure that targets me and my family openly with no shame, Israel aims 
to force me to break my hunger strike,"  Samer has said. In a message 
delivered through his lawyer, Samer has commented powerfully on these 
latest inhumane practices Israel committed against his family.  "They 
reflect their feeling of defeat through enjoying punishing me and my 
family as if my arrest and my life being in danger weren't enough," 
Samer said.

"After they shamelessly fabricated a play in which Israel played the 
victim's role and accused me of being the attacker while my family and I 
were aggressively attacked openly in the Israeli racist court despite my 
critical health situation about a month ago, 
hurried to demolish my brother's house. Why now?" Samer asked.

"This demolition is a threat Israel tried to convey to me. That house 
was practically my future home in which I was planning to marry and 
establish my own family after my release from the 10-year imprisonment 
in Israeli jails, in the swap deal for [Israeli soldier Gilad] Shalit. 
Moreover, reacting to the failure of the Israeli intelligence in 
misleading public opinion and fooling them about the reasons for my 
re-arrest, they cut the water from my family's house ignoring the 
hardships they suffer. That was another threat for me that aimed to 
pressure my soul to submit and surrender.

"All that wasn't enough for the Israeli occupation which turned my 
family's life into a living hell. They continue to provoke my family 
every now and then and call my sister Shireen and my brother Fares to 
interrogation centers and arrest them aiming to prevent them from 
delivering my message to the world and break my determination which will 
never weaken or shake.


"Where are the international human rights organizations when all that is 
happening? Israel continues to commit crimes against us and the world 
responds with silence. Are the Palestinian people excluded from 
international law? Or are we not humans, therefore these laws don't 
apply to us?"

However, despite all the pains Samer Issawi suffers, he conveyed a 
message of gratitude for everyone who supports him, through his lawyer 
who has visited him and witnessed his terrible condition. Samer gained 
more hope and faith in humanity from the latest international hunger 
strike in solidarity with him, organized by Malaka Mohammed, in which 
about 3,000 people from different nationalities fasted for 24 hours. 
Moreover, hundreds of demonstrations were organized worldwide to call 
for his release. "I send my greetings to all who are fighting with me in 
this battle and who go out for this cause, I don't consider them in 
solidarity, but they are warriors," Samer said.

Let our voices rise higher, break through the racist walls and reach 
Samer to provide him with more strength to withstand the torment. Let us 
double our efforts to rescue his life. Let us make his words echo all 
over the word and chant after him, "freedom and dignity is more precious 
than food." He shouldn't be left alone in this fight against injustice.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," Martin Luther 
King once said. Let King's words inspire you to join Samer's fight 
against Israel's injustices. His death would be a threat to your 
security, your humanity, to your values of justice and human rights. We 
need our Palestinian legend Samer Issawi alive as he deserves to live in 
dignity and freedom.

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