Saturday, July 11, 2020

Hunger striking prisoners still set on freedom or death

By Editor - July 22, 2012
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Hunger Strike] [Ramallah] [Ofer prison] [Administrative detention]

 Photos by Lazar Simeonov of a recent protest in Ramallah in support of the Palestinian prisoners 

Ramallah,Wednesday, July 18th- Akram Rikhawi, the 39 year old father of eight from Gaza has entered his 98th day on hunger strike, becoming the longest prisoner to go without food after Mahmoud Sarsak’s 92 day hunger strike. Rikhawi suffers from multiple ailments that have exacerbated his weak state of health, such as diabetes and asthma. Sentenced to nine years, he has been held in the Ramle prison hospital since his arrest in June 2004, and began hunger striking for his early release in protest of the medical negligence from the Israeli prison service that have contributed to immune deficiency and kidney problems.

38 year old Samer Barq is on his 58th day of hunger strike, held on administrative detention without charge or trial since his arrest in July, 2010. Barq’s case is unique in that the Jordanian intelligence handed him over to Israel. Barq obtained a Master’s degree in medical laboratory sciences in Pakistan in the 1990s, and was teaching in a high school in Karachi when his family lost communication with him towards the end of 2002.

A few months later, Barq called his father and informed him that he was arrested by the Jordanians for 8 months, without trial or charge. A couple days later, Barq was arrested for four more years at the hands of the Jordanian intelligence, spending three of the years in solitary confinement. He was released in January 2008, but was denied any semblance of normalcy in his every day life as he continued to get harassed and summoned for interrogation by Jordanian officials.

His last arrest came in April 2010, and a few months later in July he was transferred from Jordan to Ofer prison on the outskirts of Ramallah. On May 21 2012, after participating in the mass 28 day hunger strike that ended a week earlier, Barq began his hunger strike after his administrative detention was renewed for another three months.

We had complete faith he would return home to us on June 29th

Hasan Safadi’s family were preparing their home in the old city of Nablus for festive celebrations on June 29th, in anticipation of his scheduled release after a year in administrative detention. Safadi recently underwent a 72 day hunger strike that ended on May 15th, a day after the prisoners’ agreement was signed to end the mass hunger strike initiated on April 17th. In a show of abject injustice, and in a heavy blow dealt to his family, the Israeli Prison Service inexplicably extended Safadi’s administrative detention for another six months.
As a response Safadi relaunched his hunger strike and is on his 28th day without food.“We had complete faith he would return home to us on June 29th,” Safadi’s mother said. “We had received assurances from the committee of hunger striking prisoners that Hasan would be released when his detention ended on June 29th, and not be renewed.”

The Palestinian hunger striking prisoners are determined to strike until death or freedom. As demonstrated by the victories of Khader Adnan and more recently, Thaer Halahleh (who was released on June 5th) and national football player Mahmoud Sarsak (released on July 10th), the prisoners have succeeded in achieving what the Palestinian politicians have not: the prisoners have highlighted their plight and suffering on an international scale, as well as bringing the occupation regime down on its knees and forcing it to acquiesce to their demands, by resisting using the most powerful weapons at hand- that of their empty stomachs.

But unless a significant amount of pressure from the international community coupled with momentum building protests on the Palestinian streets, these hunger strikers are staring death in the face, while their jailers and the overall Israeli occupation that has stripped them of their basic human rights and is characterized by impunity, may get away with it.

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