Action urged as Israel punishes dozens of hunger-striking political prisoners

Electronic Intifada,   Submitted by maureen on Tue, 10/04/2011 – 06:18

Thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip rallied in recent days in support of political prisoners who are protesting worsening conditions in Israeli detention. Thousands of prisoners are said to be taking part in the civil disobedience protests which began on 27 September.

The Electronic Intifada reported in August that the Israeli government was imposing harsher measures on Palestinian political prisoners by banning academic study. Ending the abuse of solitary confinement is also a key demand of the civil disobedience campaign.

Another demand is the resumption of family visits. As The Electronic Intifada reported earlier this year, Palestinians in Gaza have escalated the regular sit-ins at the International Committee of the Red Cross because Israel has denied visits to imprisoned family members — a collective punishment measure leveled after an Israeli soldier was captured by Palestinian resistance forces in Gaza.

National unity amongst political prisoners

While national unity efforts between the Hamas and Fatah parties remain at an impasse, detainees affiliated with the two groups are uniting with prisoners associated with the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who initiated the civil disobedience campaign.

Ma’an News Agency reported yesterday:

The rallies were held as inmates saw through the seventh consecutive day of a hunger strike to protest against worsening conditions for Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.…

On Sunday, prisoner support group Addameer said Palestinian detainees affiliated to Hamas and Fatah were joining the Popular Front prisoners who launched the strike, protesting the treatment of PFLP leader Ahmad Saadat, who has been held in isolation for three years.

Director of the Abu Jihad center for prisoners affairs at al-Quds university Fahd Abu al-Hajj said Sunday that 3,000 or so prisoners were taking part.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli Prisons Authority of the number of prisoners who refused food last week, but by Monday, IPAspokeswoman Sivan Weizman said “160 prisoners” were observing a hunger strike.

Israeli Prison Service punishing protesting prisoners

The Palestinian human rights group Addameer (addameer.info) reported on Sunday that prisoners are being punished for their civil disobedience protest. Punishment includes transferring prisoners, as well as withholding salt water from prisoners waging hunger strikes.

Addameer stated:

On 27 September 2011, Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons announced the start of a campaign of disobedience to protest an escalating series of punitive measures taken against them by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) in recent months. The campaign is composed of several elements, including a hunger strike and refusal to cooperate with a number of IPS rules, such as wearing prison uniforms and participating in multiple daily roll calls.

As of 2 October, all Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) prisoners — who launched the campaign — in all Israeli prisons were participating in the campaign on a full-time basis, including an open-ended hunger strike. The campaign has now gained further momentum, with prisoners from other political factions gradually joining the campaign on a part-time basis, whereby they will take part in acts of disobedience three days a week (Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday). In Ramon, Eshel and Nafha prisons, Hamas leaders joined the campaign on 1 October on a part-time basis, and in Ashqelon prison, Fatah and Hamas prisoners are also participating on a part-time basis. In Ofer and Naqab prisons, although a number of prisoners from other political factions have already joined in the campaign on a part-time basis, representatives of all factions will reach a final decision on the matter on 4 October. In Ofer prison in particular, it is estimated that by the end of the week, 250 Hamas prisoners will join the strike on a part-time basis.

The IPS has already started punishing participating prisoners in an effort to undermine the campaign. On 1 and 2 October respectively, it transferred 28PFLP prisoners from Naqab prison and 6 PFLP prisoners from Ofer prison to as-of-yet unknown locations. In Naqab prison, the IPS also confiscated the hunger-striking prisoners’ only nourishment, salted water.

Addameer issues action appeal

Addameer issued an email alert yesterday, urging action to support the demands of Palestinian political prisoners:

On 27 September 2011, Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons announced the start of a campaign of disobedience to protest an escalating series of punitive measures taken against them by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) in recent months. The campaign is composed of several elements, including a hunger strike and refusal to cooperate with a number of IPS rules, such as wearing prison uniforms and participating in multiple daily roll calls.…

The Palestinian prisoners have made several key demands, some of which are listed below:

– End the abusive use of isolation;

– End restrictions on university education in the prisons;

– End the denial of books and newspapers;

– End the shackling to and from meetings with lawyers and family members;

– End the excessive use of fines as punishment;

– And ultimately end all forms of collective punishment, including the refusal of family visits, night searches of prisoners’ cells, and the denial of basic health treatment.

TAKE ACTION!

In response to these demands, we are calling on all activists and supporters of human rights and justice for the Palestinians to take action in solidarity with the hunger strikers. There are two important ways in which to take action:

– Organize a protest, silent vigil or similar public action outside the Israeli embassy in your country and highlight the demands of the political prisoners. Addameer can send you further information on particular prisoners who are engaged in the hunger strike to support your action.

– Write a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister expressing your concern for the hunger strikers and demanding an end to the arbitrary treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

Please keep Addameer informed of any action you are planning to take and any response given by the Israeli authorities.

 

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