Palestinian prisoners on fifth day of hunger strike to end administrative detention

From Samidoun:

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Munir Abu Sharar

The first six Palestinian administrative detainees to launch the collective hunger strike in Negev prison in the Naqab desert – who will be joined by new batches of detainees in the coming weeks and days – are now entering their fifth day of hunger strike. 250 Palestinians held without charge or trial in Israeli prisons have announced their intention to join the collective hunger strike against the policy of administrative detention.

The first six Palestinians to launch the strike are: Nidal Abu Aker, Ghassan Zawahreh, Shadi Ma’ali, Munir Abu Sharar, Bader El-Razzah and Thabet Nassar. On Sunday, 23 August, they rejected a request from the Israeli prison administration to postpone their strike for a week, in which the prison administration would study their individual cases with the intelligence service and provide individual answers. They responded with their rejection of this offer, stressing that their goal is to end the policy of administrative detention and demand their immediate release, while on the other hand the prison administration has isolated the strikers in an attempt to pressure them and isolate them from the Palestinian people.

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Nidal Abu Aker (top), Ghassan Zawahreh (right), Shadi Ma’ali (left)

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Protest tent in solidarity with the strikers being set up at the entrance to Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem

The prisoners stated that this confirms that the occupation and its intelligence service are recognizing at an early stage the seriousness of this battle and the support the prisoners will receive.

Former prisoner Adnan Hamarsheh issued a call for unified action to support the detainees, urging the construction of a permanent sit-in tent in each area raising the Palestinian flag to support the prisoners, weekly marches and press conferences updating on the prisoners’ situation, monthly workshops on the prisoners, and the involvement of schools and universities at all levels in the campaign to end administrative detention.

The striking prisoners issued a statement on their struggle:

Battle of Breaking the Chains

We enter the open hunger strike strongly and collectively with our aim to bring down administrative detention. This goal is at the forefront of our demands and is a priority to raise our collective struggle as a strategic challenge to the racist, fascist law which allows our people to be detained for long periods of time – for ten years and more over multiple arrests without charges, with no right to defend themselves in a fair trial, while the “process” is a sham intended to beautify the image of the occupation and its intelligence.

We believe that our demands must focus on the basis of the problem and not just its ramifications, in that we are aiming to bring down administrative detention as a law and as a policy which at this moment is depriving 480 administrative detainees and thousands of our imprisoned people of their freedom for many years throughout the occupation of our land.

Although we have clearly identified our goals, we in no way believe that this fight is easy, indeed it is even more difficult. Enough is enough, and we know that the occupier will tighten its grip over our main demand and will use all kinds of fascist tactics in order to thwart us from achieving our goal, but we know that the masses of our people and their organizations and institutions will be the first engine to build local, Arab and international pressure to build a broader case against the occupation and the policy of administrative detention and force the occupier to give in to our demands. Although we are convinced with ourselves to fight this battle and determined to win, despite our awareness of the difficulty and the severity to come, we aim to achieve our goals and should focus all efforts in order to involve more administrative detainees in this action as well as building the Palestinian popular movement support, the Arab masses’ support, and international support, all for the purpose of achieving victory and the best results in this battle.

The liberation of each of us is a right and a requirement, but as a target by itself it does not achieve our general interests: the occupation is easily able to turn around and re-arrest any of us after a brief period of freedom under the same policy of administrative detention.

We are not individual heroes and do not claim that we alone can achieve the strategic victory to bring down this policy, but we are determined to go into this fight until the last, and we are aware that the battle is open to all possibilities, our victory or our martyrdom for the sake of a strategically important achievement. Perhaps we may achieve part of our demands; in this case we will have fought our battle with honor and dignity. We are fighting a difficult and tiring battle to destabilize the whole system of arbitrary administrative detention. This battle aims to achieve the freedom of hundreds of administrative detainees held each year under the pretext of the “secret file” and the prosecution of the Zionist security forces.

This step comes in the context of the progressive and escalating struggle since the beginning of July, with the boycott of the occupation courts, we have continued this boycott and the occupation is attempting to pressure us by renewing our administrative detention for longer periods, and we know that the occupation recognizes the importance of this action in eroding and exposing its policy. We also emphasize the importance of breaking the force-feeding law, which is a decision for execution and forces us to escalate the pace of our struggle to bring down administrative detention. Our action now is “banging on the walls of the tank” [in reference to Ghassan Kanafani’s “Men in the Sun”] and opening the path for greater participation by administrative detainees and engaging all of the energies of our people at popular and official levels, and all of our international and regional friends and supporters to achieve victory in this battle, and in the long battle to remove the occupation from our land, our sea and our people forever.

250 Palestinian prisoners held in administrative detention state they will launch open hunger strike

From Samidoun:

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250 Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention in the “Negev” prison in the Naqab desert in the south of Palestine announced they will launch an open-ended hunger strike to defeat administrative detention. The statement, released on 18 August, also expressed support for their fellow administrative detainee, Muhammad Allan, 31, who just ended his 65-day hunger strike last night, 19 August, after a decision by the Israeli supreme court and severe damage to his health including brain damage; Allan is now again in a coma.

250 of the nearly 400 Palestinian administrative detainees are held in the Negev prison, among 1500 Palestinian political prisoners. Much of the Negev prison is constructed in tents, and Palestinian prisoners are suffering in a heat wave, with blazing sun and little protection from the elements.

Nidal Abu Aker, 49, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine from Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, is one of the leaders of the administrative detainees’ initiative, according to Ma’an News. The host of “In their cells,” a program about Palestinian prisoners that airs on Sawt al-Wihda radio station – the only radio station to broadcast from Dheisheh camp – he has spent 12 years in Israeli prisons, 9 years in administrative detention without charge or trial. He was most recently arrested in June 2014 and his administrative detention has been renewed four times, most recently in May.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes these brave prisoners, who are putting their bodies and lives on the line to confront the occupier and its continual assaults on Palestinian lives. We demand their immediate release, the end of administrative detention – and the liberation of all of the nearly 6,000 Palestinian political prisoners. We pledge to act to build solidarity with their struggle, and urge all around the world to organize protests, actions and events to demand the release of Palestinian political prisoners and an end to administrative detention.

The statement of the 250 administrative detainees follows:

The Battle of Breaking the Chains

To the masses of our great people, the heroes of revolution, the fiery fuel of confrontation of the Zionist occupation and the fascist colonists, to our youth, our mothers and sisters; our struggle does not relent because of your sacrifices. We greet you for Palestine.

Today we face the escalating Zionist attacks against our people in general and against the rights of our Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and massive harassment, frenzied campaigns of inspections and raids and the denial of the most basic rights of living that provide a minimum of human dignity. We face the continuation of the Palestinian division and its impact on the reality of our national movement in the prisons of the occupier. And we face the persistence of the occupier in enacting new fascist and racist laws, such as the law of death and the law of force-feeding which was recently passed, and the growing use of administrative detention. It represents a clear and explicit violation of all international conventions and human rights principles, where we are arrested for extended periods, for years continuously, at the mercy of a so-called “secret file,” where we have no right to defend ourselves. Administrative detention is a sword hanging over our necks, that eats away our flesh and blood and years of our lives without trial and without mercy.

It is used relentlessly by the enemy intelligence service and by the military courts. There have been more than 480 administrative detention orders issued, the number of administrative detainees rising to a height of 650 since just last summer. Most administrative detainees have their detention orders renewed more than once. Some have spent more than five years and others ten years in administrative detention over repeated arrests. In light of this detention, we consider ourselves to be in a continuing struggle of confrontation with the occupier.

Therefore, we have made our first step in confronting this form of arrest: boycotting the occupation courts issuing administrative detention orders, fully and finally, to reveal and expose the occupation before our people, our Arab nation and international public opinion, where the occupier attempts to legitimize its detention of us.

Through dialogue and discussion between all administrative detainees of all political forces, with the commitment of 80 detainees we began to act from the date of 1 July 2015, where we boycotted the Zionist military courts and refused to appear because they are am illegitimate sham. We were denied the right to access our lawyers, denying us the right to a defense and representation.

We view this as a step that advances the prisoners’ movement in confronting administrative detention, to stand up and play our national role in confronting the arbitrary administrative detention. Some administrative detainees have undertaken individual hunger strikes in protest of administrative detention in general and their personal detention, as is their right. Despite this, we view the collective action on a national level is more capable of creating real results to break the policy of administrative detention. However, the endangered life of Mohammad Allan since two months has confronted the occupation and its tools, and is threatened with the implementation of a decision of force-feeding. We resolve to fight against the occupation and its intelligence apparatus in the battle of empty stomachs, in order to achieve the following demands:

1. The end of the administrative detention policy against our people and their strugglers.
2. The support to the struggler Muhammad Allan; we will not leave him alone in the battle. We refuse any decision that does not provide his freedom, and we refuse any decision to deport him, which is another violation of human rights.
3. Bringing down the law of force-feeding against activists on hunger strike, as it represents a decision for their death and a flagrant violation of international human rights principles.
4. Our immediate freedom and unconditional release, as a contribution to the demolition of the policy of administrative detention.
5. To break the deadlock and internal division, and to unify the Palestinian forces for joint national action inside the prisons, culminating in true national unity.

To the struggling masses of our people, we face a complex reality that already sees a number of striking prisoners threatened with death at the hands of the prison administration and intelligence services. We cannot stand idly by and observe from afar, our will and action is united with the popular and national movement and support from the Palestinian street. We emphasize that we are with you and without your support, we cannot achieve our demands. Without you, Palestine will not enjoy its freedom, independence and the return of her children.

You and your will are great, and your participation will bring victories and the rights of our people. You are with us as we are fighting our battle in confronting the occupation, and we are inevitably victorious.