Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Palestinian Hunger Strikers for Justice

Palestinian Hunger Strikers for Justice


by Stephen Lendman


Hana Shalabi's ordeal highlights what many others endured previously and dozens do now. Only they know the physical and emotional toll.


Who else understands the willingness to die for justice? Who'll suffer and risk it? Who'll challenge an implacable foe unconcerned if they live or die?


Hana, Khader Adnan, and many others risk everything to live free. They confront injustice courageously for it. They're willing to die without it. What greater sacrifice than that! What better reason to lend support and honor them.


Thousands of Hanas and Khaders rot in Israeli gulags. Recovering from his ordeal, Israel promised to free Khader on April 17, Palestinian Prisoners Day. More on it below.


Free or in prison, tormenting Khader won't end. Nor will Hana's ordeal or other Palestinians persecuted by Israel's racist oppression.


Lawlessly deported to Gaza, Hana arrived Sunday afternoon. An official, popular welcome greeted her. She was taken to Shifa Hospital intensive care for treatment. She expressed thanks and said "I am in my country and among my family." She perhaps faces weeks to fully recover. Freedom among friends is the best therapy.


The same day she was freed, Israel arrested other Palestinians, including children. It happens virtually daily.


In the week ending March 28, Israeli forces conducted 65 West Bank incursions and another in Gaza. Nineteen Palestinians were arrested, including a child, a woman, and an ill patient.


Various human rights organizations denounced Hana's treatment and lawless deportation, among them the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).


Hana's protected person status was violated. It was far worse during incarceration. PCHR said Hana's case highlights what many others endure. They include 20 or more Palestinian Legislative Council members, including its Speaker, Aziz Dweik.


They're all lawlessly punished. International law's spurned. Everyone has the right to live free in their own country, and come and go as they please. Israel contemptuously tramples on Palestinian rights. Hana and others like her highlight how abusively.


Political Prisoner Hunger Strikers


At age 72, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Ahmad al Haj Ali has been hunger striking three weeks for justice. Ill and aging, his life's endangered. Unless helped, he may not last much longer.


Many other lawlessly imprisoned Palestinians also defy Israeli injustice the only way they can. Kifah Hattab has been hunger striking and refusing to obey prison orders for over a month.


Bilal Thiab and Tha'ir Halahleh also refused food for over a month. Their strike's open-ended as it is for others.


Murad Malayshah and Islam Al-Shu'aybe have hunger struck almost as long. So have Tariq Qa'dan and Tha'ir Daraghmeh.


Hasan Safadi, Mohammad Abu 'Arab and Omar Shallal have refused food for over three weeks. So have 10 other detainees nearly as long. They include Ayman Tbeishah, Salih A. Kmeil, Salih S. Kmeil, Bilal Kmeil, Murad Fashafshah, Adib Al-Qut, Mohammad 'Abushi, Fayez Ash-Shayeb, 'Asif Abu Al-Rub, and Samir Abu Khazhah.


These Palestinians are among many others hunger striking for justice. Some endure days, others weeks, and some longer. Behind bars, they have few ways to resist. Refusing food's a common tactic. It's gone on for decades.


The longer it continues, the greater the health risk. Bodies need sustenance to stay healthy. Too long without it risks death. Previous strikers died after 52 to 74 days. Starvation deteriorates muscles and vital organs until they entirely break down.


In late March, hundreds of Palestinians joined a one-day strike against isolation, medical neglect, prohibiting family visits, and overall brutal prison treatment.


At any time, several up to dozens protest inhumane treatment by refusing food. Thousands are held in Israeli gulags, including children, women, hundreds administratively uncharged, and 20 or more Palestinian MPs.


Palestinian Prisoners Day


Annually on April 17 since 1979, Palestinian Prisoners Day commemorates Mahmoud Hijazi's 1974 release. He was the political prisoner Israel freed in exchange for Shumuel Rosenwasser, an Israeli Fatah held.


Each April 17, Addameer highlights its "Prisoners at Risk Campaign." It's done to raise awareness of endangered detainees. No one's safe in Israeli dungeons, but these prisoners face special risks.


Some are seriously ill. Others are imprisoned indefinitely uncharged without trial. Courageous human rights activists are held. Still others are politically active. Most face torture and abuse. Some were retaliated against for going public.


Last April 17, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) commemorated the hundreds of thousands of wrongfully imprisoned Palestinians since 1967. At any time, thousands languish in Israeli hellholes. Denied all rights, they're brutally treated.


PCHR "noted with particular concern the many violations of human rights and humanitarian law that prisoners are subjected to while in Israeli detention."


It cited Fourth Geneva and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) violations. It condemned treating children like adults "in blatant contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)."


It said Palestinians in Israeli custody are routinely "subject to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, including poor detention conditions, denial of access to counsel or family visits, deprivation of health care, and many other policies that violate human rights law."


Th UN Committee Against Torture condemned Israel for failing to investigate and end the practice of torture. Uncharged administratively detained prisoners have no idea when or if they'll be released.


Imprisoned Gazans haven't had family visits for years. They're also denied phone calls and mail from relatives. Blanket prohibitions exacerbate unusually harsh confinement overall. Grave human rights violations are committed. Prisoners and close family members alike endure cruel and unusual punishment. It's official Israeli policy.


On June 7, 1967, Military proclamation No. 1 justified detentions "in the interests of security and public order." Thereafter Palestinians faced police state persecution. Hundreds of other lawless orders followed. All violated international law.


Cruel, abusive, inhumane, and degrading treatment is policy. Due process and judicial fairness don't exist. Geneva's Common Article 3 is violated. It requires:


"humane treatment for all persons in enemy hands, specifically prohibit(ing) murder, mutilation, torture, cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment (and) unfair trial(s)."


Fourth Geneva's Article 4 calls "protected persons" those held by parties to a conflict or occupation "of which they are not nationals."


They must "be treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention." They're entitled to Fourth Geneva rights. Prisoners of war under Third Geneva have the same rights as those under Common Article 3.


Israel spurns all international laws with impunity. Under its 1971 Prison Ordinance, no provision defines prisoner rights. The Interior Minister decides ad hoc or by decree. For example, 20 inmates may be held in a cell small as five meters long, four meters wide, and three meters high, including an open lavatory. They can be confined there 23 hours a day.


Besides severe overcrowding, they're subjected to poor ventilation and sanitation, no change of clothes or adequate amounts, wooden planks with thin (at times vermin infested) mattresses to sleep on, poor food and not enough, poor medical care, extreme pressure to break their will, and widespread use of torture, abuse, cruel and degrading treatment as standard practice.


Moreover, women and children are treated like men. Brutality and lawlessness define Israeli policy. What began under occupation in June 1967, continues abusively today.


Each April 17 and throughout the year, it's vital to know what goes on and condemn it. Why else would Palestinians risk death by hunger striking against it. They deserve our support and then some.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.


Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.