Raymond McCartney, the former Irish hunger striker and current Member of Northern Ireland’s Legislative Assembly for Sinn Féin is the latest from Ireland to send a message of solidarity to Palestinian political prisoner Khader Adnan, who is entering his 63rd day of hunger strike protesting administrative detention, a policy started by the British and which is illegal under international law.
McCartney, along with six other prisoners (Brendan Hughes, Tom McFeeley, John Nixon, Sean McKenna, Tommy McKearney and Leo Green) participated in what became known as the First Hunger Strike in 1980 in order to attain political status under the British occupation.
After weeks of delays by the British in implementing the promised changes, and confusion among the prisoners and their supporters, it became apparent in January 1981 that political status was not to be granted. The prisoners, faced with no alternative, would be forced to embark on a new fast that would have widespread repercussions in Ireland and abroad.
The Second Hunger Strike is the more famous one, with ten Irish prisoners hunger striking until death.
Oliver Hughes, the brother of Francis Hughes who died in 1981 after 59 days of hunger strike, had sent his message of support a few days earlier. Tommy McKearney, mentioned above, was the first of the former hunger strikers to record a message of solidarity.
Raymond McCartney, who was on hunger strike for 53 days, says that he “understands what [Khader] is feeling at this particular moment in time, so our thoughts are with him and his family.”
He goes on to say:
”All of us here in Ireland in particular those elected representatives should be doing all what we can to put pressure on the Israeli government to release this man. He’s been held by a form of internment, again a tactic well known and understood by people in Ireland. We need to have this man released and we need to ensure that we don’t have a death in present of this Palestinian who is struggling for his human dignity and the dignity for all Palestinians.”
Khader Adnan was arrested from his home at 3:30am in front of his pregnant wife and two young daughters on December 17th. He has not been charged with anything, and as a result has embarked on a hunger strike since December 18th, using his stomach to protest the immoral administrative detention that the incongruent Israeli Prison System characterizes itself with.
Amnesty International reports:
Administrative detention is a procedure under which detainees are held without charge or trial for periods of up to six months, which can be renewed repeatedly. Under administrative detention, detainees’ rights to a fair trial as guaranteed by Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) are consistently violated.
Khader Adnan is one of 309 Palestinians currently held in administrative detention by the Israeli authorities, including one man held for over five years and 24 Palestinian Legislative Council members. Hundreds of other Palestinian detainees and prisoners have joined Khader Adnan’s hunger strike.
After 62 days of Khader Adnan hunger striking, the international community’s silence has been duly noted. Khader Adnan is a living legend, an icon of resistance and is determined to carry through with his hunger strike until he his released or charged, declaring that “My dignity is more precious than my food.”