Arab Human Rights Association: Freedom and Dignity for Political Prisoners
Twenty days ago, Palestinian political prisoners started a hunger strike demanding an end to the deplorable conditions of their detention. Palestinian prisoners in Gilboa jail collectively decided to join the open-ended hunger strike on 10 October. Today, I learned that hunger striker Ameer Makhoul was transferred by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) from Gilboa to Megiddo jail, near Haifa. The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) transferred Ameer Makhoul from Gilboa to Megiddo jail, I learned today. The move is probably intended to break the solidarity among the prisoners in Gilboa.
Palestinian citizen of Israel Walid Daka also participates in the hunger strike in Gilboa jail. Daka has been in prison for almost a quarter of a century. Daka contributed to the book ‘Threat, Palestinian political prisoners in Israel’ with the chapter ‘Consciousness Molded or the Re-Identification of Torture’.
Haneen Zoabi, a member of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) had planned a visit to Makhoul and Daka. Although Zoabi received permission for the visit, the IPS did not allow her to visit the two detainees on Saturday 16 October. After a lawyer requested permission to visit Makhoul the following day, it became clear that the IPS had transferred Makhoul from Gilboa to Megiddo. The conditions of Makhoul’s detention are not clear yet.
Visits to prisoners by lawyers denied
The IPS has prevented many lawyers from visiting Palestinian detainees during the hunger strike and Addameer, the human rights group focused on Palestinian prisoners, warned in a 13 October statement that the prisoners’ swap deal between Israel and Hamas might be used to further complicate such visits.
In its 13 October statement, Addameer expressed its concern about the hunger strikers, whose “dire health conditions and isolation will only be exacerbated over the next three days as Israeli prisons close during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.” The statement added:
It will be completely impossible for lawyers and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegates to visit Israeli prisons during the same period because of the Sukkot holiday. As a result, until at least Sunday 16 October, there will be no independent monitoring of, or contact with, the hunger striking prisoners, some of whom are already in dismal health. Furthermore, it will be impossible to verify whether salt has been returned to prisoners who have been on a hunger strike for more than 14 days, as is required by Israeli law, an illegal measure that could significantly impact the prisoners’ health. As of 12 October, which marked the sixteenth day of the hunger strike and the last time Addameer lawyers were able to undertake visits, administrations in the visited prisons had not returned the salt to the strikers. In addition, Addameer expects that lawyer visits will be further complicated by the IPS during the entire period of the prisoner releases [related to the swap deal], with authorities likely to attribute this to the logistics of the releases.
Israel should allow independent doctors to provide care to hunger strikers
The disturbing situation of the hunger strikers in the Israeli jails is also highlighted in a letter of 11 October written by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. The organization writes:
According to international conventions and ethics of the World Medical Association, it is of utmost importance that during a hunger strike the medical care will be given by independent doctors whom the prisoners can trust. (…) PHR-Israel had appealed to its internal and family doctors to volunteer to visit the prisoners that are on hunger strike. A request to allow them visit all prisoners on hunger strike was sent to the IPS and was refused, stating that each prisoner must request our doctor specifically. In addition, a letter was sent to the chief medical officer of the IPS, Dr. Dini Orkin-Tishler, calling her to adhere to medical ethics and refrain from using medical professionals and medicine as a tool in fighting against the strike.
The International Solidarity Movement published a photo-story about the actions in Hebron, Gaza, Beit Ummar, Ramallah and Nablus in occupied Palestine.
Rim Banna, well known Palestinian singer and activist from Nazareth, joined the hunger strike, last week. Banna wrote on a piece of cardboard, “I’m on hunger strike in solidarity with the 6,000 Palestinian and Arab prisoners in the occupation’s prisons” and stood in Ain Al-Azraa Square in Nazareth.
A group of Palestinian activists in Ramallah started a graffiti project to move society and create public pressure. Hungry4Freedom is sprayed in English and Arabic to support the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike.
Meanwhile, demonstrations in support of the demands of the Palestinian political prisoners have also been organized in the United States, France, Greece and Ireland. Do post information about activities in other countries as a comment to this blog.
In Amman, eight Jordanians started a hunger strike last Wednesday. The Jordan Times reports:
Since then three others joined them in a tent outside the Jordanian Democratic Popular Unity Party’s headquarters in the capital’s Jabal Hussein neighborhood. Hamzah Zaghloul is taking part in the protest, although his parents did not approve of his decision. ‘They told me that this strike will affect my studies but I was determined to support our brothers in Palestine,’ the 23-year-old university student told The Jordan Times at the tent.
Solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners is even more important now the hunger strike reaches a critical stage.