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1,600 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike since April 17

May 7, 2012

by the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat

On Palestinian Prisoners Day April 17, 500 students marched in Glasgow to occupy BBC Scotland headquarters, demanding full coverage of Palestinian prisoners’ mass hunger strike. – Photo: WeAreAllHanaShalabi
Over 1,600 Palestinian prisoners are currently engaged in a steadfast and open-ended hunger strike that launched on April 17, 2012, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Ahmad Sa’adat, Palestinian national leader and general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is among these prisoners, once again taking up the “Battle of the Empty Stomachs” to demand justice and dignity, and has now been on hunger strike for 14 days.

Palestinian hunger strikers are demanding an end to isolation and solitary confinement; an end to administrative detention; access to family visits for all prisoners, including those from Gaza; and access to education and media. Sa’adat has been held in isolation for over three years, since March 2009.

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike are demanding international solidarity. Actions you can take are listed below.

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike are demanding international solidarity.

In a breaking news report, Palestinian political prisoners from the PFLP have rejected an occupation offer to end Sa’adat’s isolation if they would break the hunger strike. They refused; the hunger strike includes prisoners from all Palestinian factions, united in their demands.

The following letter from Ahmad Sa’adat to his family, the Palestinian and Arab people and the world was released April 24, the eighth day of his hunger strike, smuggled from his isolation cell. It calls for support for the hunger strike on Palestinian, Arab and international levels:

“Do not worry; my health is much better than in the previous hunger strike, and I am confident it will remain so. Thank you for your continual support of my position in this hunger strike. As is the case in every strike, they took all of our electrical appliances, canteen, clothing … We only have left prison clothes, some change of underwear, pajamas, towels, soap and toothpaste.

“All of us have lost about 5-7 kilograms (11-15 pounds) in weight, but everyone is in good health and, most importantly, in high morale and determined to continue the strike. We are confident of victory, relying on the justice of our cause and our demands and the support of the masses of our people, our nation and the free world – individuals, organizations and institutions – standing, as always alongside our just struggle.

“These demands include a number of legitimate human rights under international law, including abolition of solitary confinement as a dangerous form of torture with no security or legal justification and contrary to international humanitarian law and all international conventions that prohibit torture. We are also demanding an end to the prohibition of family visits to the prisoners from Gaza for more than seven years, as well as interference with family visitors from the West Bank under the pretext of ‘security reasons’ and demanding that such visits be allowed for extended as well as immediate family.

“These demands include a number of legitimate human rights under international law, including abolition of solitary confinement as a dangerous form of torture with no security or legal justification and contrary to international humanitarian law and all international conventions that prohibit torture,” writes Ahmad Sa’adat to his family.

“What we need from the masses of the people, political forces and institutions is to raise the voices and the call of our just demands of the prisoners with a unified voice and not subject the cause of the prisoners to internal disputes or the management of division.

“This strike includes participation from all political forces and factions, without exception, and the best gift from the political forces supporting us is to implement agreements for unity on which the ink is not yet dry. Such unity is an essential foundation, the most important pillar to achieve our just national goals.

“In conclusion, I salute and thank all of the Palestinian, Arab and international forces standing beside our just struggle. Forward to victory!”

This story originally appeared on the website of the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat. Email the campaign at info@freeahmadsaadat.org.

Statement from strike leadership: We will continue until our demands are met

by the Higher National Leadership Committee of the Prisoners’ Struggle

This is the moment of truth, where hunger grips our bleeding wounds. This is a call of duty and we cannot be weak or cowardly. We are facing a real massacre committed by the Zionist jailers against our individual and collective rights, where we are confronted by torture and abuse on a daily basis, around the clock, in an attempt to force all of the hunger strikers to break the strike.

Outside Ofer Prison in Ramallah May 1, the Israeli Occupying Force fired tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets and stun grenades at protesters supporting hunger strikers. At least two were injured. Since 1967, over 700,000 Palestinians, 20 percent of the population of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, have been detained. This number represents approximately 40 percent of the total male Palestinian population in the occupied territories. – Photo: Palestine News Network
We are at a crucial and dangerous stage and, inspired by our hunger and our pain, speak to your conscience and affirm the following:

First, we will continue our strike. We will not go back, except by achieving our demands. We will not be defeated by their crimes and cruelty as we draft a vision for a decent life.

Second, we will take qualitative and unprecedented steps if the Prison Service continues to refuse our demands, and we will not announce these steps until the moment of implementation.

Third, we call on the masses of our people in the beseiged Gaza Strip, the brave West Bank and all of Palestine, and our families at home, to organize mass rallies and marches toward Israeli checkpoints in order to confront the occupation.

Fourth, we expect our Arab brothers and sisters in Egypt and Jordan to encircle the embassies of the Zionist entity in order to force it to respond to our demands.

Fifth, we call upon the free people of the world and the Arab and Muslim communities in all countries of the world to implement rallies, protests, occupations and sit-ins at Israeli embassies as an expression of solidarity with the prisoners’ cause and to expose the crimes of the Zionists.

Sixth, we value highly the reporting of Palestinian and Arab satellite channels in their coverage of our strike, including Al-Jazeera, that is consistent with the pulse of our nation and its identity, as well as al-Aqsa TV, al-Quds TV, and call upon the Arab and Palestinian media to exercise their duty to our just and humanitarian cause.

Seventh, we are looking forward to an important and active Egyptian role in support of our cause and we appeal to the ruling power in sister Egypt to do all in its power to compel the Zionist entity to commit to our demands, including ending the policy of solitary confinement and isolation and the abolition of the “Shalit law.”

We swear to continue to strike until our demands are met, no matter what the cost. We believe in our right to a dignified life even if we fall as martyrs. We must live with dignity or die.

Finally, we swear to continue to strike until our demands are met, no matter what the cost. We believe in our right to a dignified life even if we fall as martyrs. Our dignity is the greatest cost; we are committed before God; we must live with dignity or die.

This statement originally appeared on the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

Palestinians organize hunger tents in support of detainees

Thousands of Palestinians around the West Bank and Gaza have joined in solidarity by setting up tents outside the Red Cross in Gaza and in areas around Ramallah and the West Bank, where the local communities are staging hunger strikes in support of the Palestinian prisoners held in administrative detention by the Israeli Prison Service. …

On Palestine Prisoners’ Day, 160 prisoners began an open hunger strike while 2,000 people marched towards the Red Cross in Gaza City in solidarity, alongside thousands protesting around the West Bank. The 160 detained prisoners began an open hunger strike with a further 2,300 prisoners who refused food for one day and 1,200 prisoners who said they would begin a hunger strike. This added to three quarters of the 4,700 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons.

This story originally appeared on the Palestine News Network.

Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike: Repression and solidarity escalate

Repression against prisoners continues: Numerous prisoners have been moved from prison to prison, prisoners are fined 250-500 New Israeli Shekels daily and Addameer lawyers are barred from the prisons, according to an April 30 report from the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

“Nonetheless, the resistance continues. … Calls are echoing throughout Palestine and on social media around the world for a general strike May 1, for International Workers’ Day and the prisoners. A protest will take place outside Ramleh prison hospital, where hunger strikers are held, on Thursday, May 3, while daily pickets will take place in London in solidarity with the prisoners,” Samidoun reports.

“Successful and growing protests are taking place around the world and throughout Palestine – but more action is urgently needed as the prisoners’ lives, health and bodies are on the line for their rights, dignity, and their cause and people.”

Students occupy BBC for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike

More than 500 student protesters marched from George Square in Glasgow to occupy BBC Scotland headquarters on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day April 17 to demand mainstream media coverage of the prisoners’ hunger strike, reports WeAreAllHanaShalabi. The students want BBC’s worldwide audience to know what led to the prisoners’ decision to call for a mass hunger strike, and they question BBC’s impartiality.

As in the U.S., Scottish police treated the student marchers with more hostility than protection and arrested several. – Photo: WeAreAllHanaShalabi
Many of those marching participated in the global hunger strike from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. that day in solidarity with the prisoners. More demonstrations have been called across Scotland in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

According to the report, “The demonstrators entered the building before midday and are currently holding the main lobby, chanting ‘BBC, shame on you; put the prisoners on the news’ and ‘Hunger strikers will not bow; free the political prisoners now. …

“The actions today take place two days after thousands of international activists attempted to fly into Ben Gurion Airport demanding the right to travel to the West Bank on invitation of the mayor of Bethlehem. There are currently around 50 activists being held in detention, including four Scottish nationals, who are refusing food and water in solidarity with the Karamah Hunger Strike.

“The demonstrations around the issue of the hunger strikers are being organized by student Palestine societies in Scotland, with the support of various organizations, uniting under the banner of ‘We Are All Hana Shalabi.’ …

“One of the occupiers said, ‘The Karamah Hunger Strike represents a potentially significant moment in the history of the Palestinian struggle. The fact that 2400 Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike against the apartheid policies of the Israeli occupation shows the desire of Palestinians to have their freedom from prison and freedom from occupation. The BBC is complicit through their silence on the ongoing situation in Palestine, and we are occupying today to highlight that the magnitude of this issue and this injustice demands that the media cover it.”

Gaza child launches hunger strike for imprisoned father; Prison Services attempt to bargain with prisoners’ healthcare

Former prisoner Samer Abu Sir reported that Israeli prison administration forces attempted to bargain with imprisoned patient Akram Rakhawi in Ramle hospital, saying they would provide him with inhalers and oxygen if he broke his hunger strike. Rakhawi refused, saying that despite his heart disease, shortness of breath and diabetes, he would not break his strike.

Hamas militants stage a mock prison break during a rally April 13 in Jabalya, northern Gaza Strip, calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. – Photo: Mohammed Salem, Reuters
He also reported that Jumana Abu Jazar, 11, has launched a hunger strike in solidarity with her imprisoned father, the Fateh representative in the strike’s leadership. Jumana has spoken to Palestinian and Arab media in the past about her situation – her mother is dead, and she lives with her grandfather in Rafah. Her father is serving a 19-year sentence in occupation prisons, and she is one of the victims of the Israeli policy of denying family visits to prisoners in the Gaza Strip. Abu Sir noted that the leadership of the prisoners rejected a proposal by the Israeli prison officials for Gaza families to see their imprisoned relatives via video conferencing, demanding ordinary visits like all other prisoners.

Abu Sir also called to expand the activities on April 17 for the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners, noting that of course it is not enough to have one day, the 17th of April, as the only day for Palestinian prisoner solidarity and to stand alongside the captives behind the bars of the occupation every day. He said that this day of action is a strong support for international solidarity mobilization and engagement with the issue of prisoners, and a tool to put pressure on international institutions, in particular the United Nations.

This story originally appeared on the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

Take action!

1. Sign a letter demanding the Israeli state implement all of the demands of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners. Tell the Israeli Prison Services that the world is watching! Sign at http://samidoun.ca/2012/04/prisoners-hunger-strike-enters-12th-day-take-action-now-60-days-of-hunger-for-bilal-diab-and-thaer-halahleh/#letter.

2. Join a protest or demonstration for Palestinian prisoners. Organizing an event, action or forum on Palestinian prisoners on your city or campus? Use the form at http://samidoun.ca/2012/04/submit-your-palestinian-prisoner-solidarity-activities-here/ to contact us and we will post the event widely. If you need suggestions, materials or speakers for your event, please contact us at samidoun@samidoun.ca.

World renowned artists Carlos Latuff designed this graphic for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, #Palhunger.
3. Contact your government officials and demand an end to international silence and complicity with the repression of Palestinian political prisoners. In the U.S., call the office of Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, at (202) 647-7209. Demand that Feltman bring this issue urgently to his counterparts in Israel.

4. Write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and demand they uphold their duties to protect the rights of Palestinian political prisoners. Go to http://samidoun.ca/2012/04/palestinian-prisoners-day-take-action-to-call-for-freedom-for-palestinian-prisoners/#letter to sign a one-minute letter and make your voice heard.

5. Distribute materials, including factsheets (http://samidoun.ca/2012/04/new-factsheets-for-distribution-on-palestinian-prisoners-day/) and videos (http://samidoun.ca/2012/04/videos-the-testimony-of-palestinian-prisoner-dr-abdul-aziz-omar/), telling the story of Palestinian prisoners.

All these stories were relayed by the ever-vigilant Political Prisoner News, ppnews@freedomarchives.org. The Bay View thanks them for keeping the people informed.

California prisoners may resume hunger strike July 1

by Bato Talamantez

We need to somehow let Pelican Bay and other prisoners know that hunger strikes in Palestine are for basically the same human rights as their own here and let our prisoners derive strength and solidarity for their own upcoming ordeal, now scheduled for the first of July.

I’m afraid more prisoners are about to die of starvation, as they are as determined as any prisoners anywhere to put an end to their own suffering – or die trying to correct this gross injustice within Amerikkka’s gulags.

In the spirit of solidarity.

Bato Talamantez, a member of the legendary San Quentin 6, can be reached at batowato@gmail.com.

A young Palestinian woman raises the Palestinian flag on an Israeli armored vehicle. She was sprayed in the face with burning chemicals.

 

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