Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association Calls for Solidarity with the Striking Prisoners

Addameer statment:

Ramallah, 27 September 2011

Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons have 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 IPS’s increasing crackdown on Palestinian prisoners and the resulting worsening in their detention conditions started immediately after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on 23 June 2011 a change in policy with regard to Palestinian prisoners’ detention conditions. Declaring the current conditions as “over-generous”, despite widespread and recurrent international condemnation thereof, Netanyahu declared that a series of undefined punitive measures would be implemented, affecting everything from prisoners’ access to education, books and family visits, to the IPS’s use of isolation and fines as punishment.

As a result, prisoners have decided to undertake a hunger strike on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday of every week beginning this week. Prisoners have also declared that their campaign will include a range of other forms of disobedience, including refusal to wear prison uniforms, participate in the daily roll call, or cooperate with any other IPS demands.

A group of prisoners has also decided to start an open-ended hunger strike, demanding an end to the IPS’s abusive use of isolation for “security” reasons, which currently affects 20 prisoners, some of whom have spent 10 years in isolation. In particular, their strike is focused on ending the isolation of Ahmed Sa’adat, the Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who has been held in isolation for the past three years.

Additionally, prisoners in Ramon Prison have also started an open-ended hunger strike after a meeting with the Israeli Minister of Public Security on 27 September failed to resolve their demands, which included ending the IPS’s abusive use of: isolation; collective punishment, particularly with regard to restrictions on family visits and imposition of fines; frequent raids and humiliating searches; and shackling of prisoners’ hands and legs during transfer to and from lawyer visits. The demands also focused on reinstating prisoner’s access to university education and improving the health conditions of hundreds of sick and injured prisoners, notably by providing them with adequate treatment.

Addameer calls on the Palestine Liberation Organization to stand firm in its position to refuse to return to negotiations without the release of all Palestinian and Arab political prisoners currently held in Israeli prisons and detention centers. Addameer also urges all political parties, institutions and associations working in the field of human rights to support the prisoners in their campaign of disobedience.

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