Update: Prisoners’ Hunger Strike Suspended; Solidarity and Action Needed for Struggle to Come

An update from the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Samidoun, on the hunger strike that was supposed to take place from today:

Header from SamidounPalestinian prisoners in Israeli jails announced today, 11 August, that hundreds of prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who had planned to launch a hunger strike today, are suspending their planned strike after a concession from Israeli prison administration cancelling the order banning family visits for imprisoned Palestinian leader and PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat. The Palestinian prisoners are still calling for action – click here to find out what you can do.

The PFLP prisoners issued a statement noting that the struggle of the prisoners is far from over, and that they along with all other Palestinian factions inside the prison are engaged in united planning for the next steps of struggle:

Following the announcement of the planned hunger strike to begin today, the Israeli Prison Service was forced to rescind the order prohibiting imprisoned PFLP General Secretary, Comrade Ahmad Sa’adat from family visits. The first visit with his family will take place this month and the next in September, and there is a final agreement with the comrades in the PFLP’s prison branch to cancel this order on a permanent basis.

The PFLP branch in the prisons of the occupation emphasizes that the struggle inside the prisons is continuing and escalating, and that it is working in coordination with all Palestinian factions in the prisons, uniting all Palestinian prisoners, for the next stages of struggle to secure all of our demands and improve the circumstances of life for the prisoners. Therefore, the prison branch of the PFLP has suspended its decision to go on hunger strike as one faction, and will join together with the entire Palestinian prisoners’ national movement in the protest steps to come.

The struggle of Palestinian prisoners remains critical and international action is necessary. This concession was only attained because of the willingness of Palestinian prisoners to put their bodies on the line to confront injustice, and because of the eyes of the Palestinian people and the world on the struggle of the prisoners. Today, the united prisoners’ movement is escalating its struggle and calling for action, solidarity organizing and escalation of boycott to achieve its goals.

In particular, the situation of Palestinian lawyer and hunger striker, Muhammad Allan, 31, held in administrative detention without charge or trial since November 2014 is particularly critical and demands international action and solidarity. Allan has been on hunger strike for 56 days and is shackled hand and foot to his hospital bed in Barzilai hospital. He is being threatened with force-feeding – cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment amounting to torture – and becoming the first victim of the new force-feeding law passed by the Knesset last month, condemned by UN officials, the Israeli Medical Association, the World Health Organization and human rights advocates. His medical situation is dire, and international action can help to not only save his life but gain his freedom and that of his fellow over 5750 Palestinians in Israeli jails.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network notes that Palestinian prisoners’ organizations are working together to determine the next phase of struggle. The Israeli prison administration and occupation forces exert great efforts to divide Palestinian prisoners and their demands from one another by targeting particular Palestinian political factions – first one, then another. In light of this situation, Palestinian prisoners know that united action is always the most effective means of struggle. We also must stay on high alert, as we – and the prisoners’ movement – are well aware that Israeli occupation forces routinely violate the agreements obtained through Palestinian prisoners’ struggle. Sudden changes in the situation and the dynamics inside the prisons due to Israeli attacks and violations of prisoners’ rights should be expected – and we must be prepared to mobilize and respond accordingly.

The Palestinian prisoners’ movement is acutely aware of its conditions within the prisons of the occupation; every day, they live in confrontation with an occupier which routinely violates their rights, and yet they continue to organize and struggle. Our task must be not only to amplify their voice but to build a loud, broad and strong movement to achieve the just demands of the prisoners; their liberation; and the cause for which they struggle – the liberation of Palestine.

Take Action today for Palestinian prisoners!

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Update: Take Action: Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners to strike Tuesday

This comes from the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network (Samidoun):

UPDATE, 10 August: There are now reports that the Palestinian prisoners in Nafha and Ramon prisons have suspended their hunger strike for two weeks. 32 prisoners are continuing to conduct their hunger strike. The Palestinian Prisoners Society is quoted as saying that there is an agreement to return prisoners in Nafha to their sections, and that the strike will resume if the Israeli prison administration does not comply within two weeks. The call for hunger strike on Tuesday, 11 August remains in place.

As of Sunday, 9 August there were 180 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on open hunger strike and hundreds more set to begin striking on Tuesday, 11 August. The wave of strikes was initiated after Israeli special forces attacked Palestinian prisoners in Nafha, injuring 30 prisoners in a violent nighttime raid, including Ahmad Sa’adat, Palestinian political leader and General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Groups of prisoners were isolated and transferred from Nafha and Palestinian prisoners launched a campaign of resistance.

TAKE ACTION: Click here for action steps to support Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.

120 prisoners in Nafha affiliated with Fateh launched a hunger strike on Thursday, 6 August, demanding an end to isolation and solitary confinement, the return of transferred prisoners, an end to the denial of family visits, canteen (prison commissary) access and an end to the raids on prisoners. On 9 August, 32 prisoners affiliated with Islamic Jihad launched a hunger strike as several dozen more Fateh prisoners in Ramon and Eshel prisons joined the strike. The prisoners of Islamic Jihad announced that they were dissolving their leadership as of Monday 10 August – thus leaving no official representatives to negotiate with Israeli prison administration, and demanded the end of the isolation of prisoner Nahar Saadi, the end of the force-feeding law and in particular its use against Muhammad Allan, and expressed their support for the striking Fateh prisoners and their demands.

These open hunger strikes come in addition to several individual hunger strikes, including that ofMuhammad Allan, 31, a Palestinian lawyer held without charge or trial in administrative detention who has been on hunger strike for over 55 days, is in a severe medical emergency situation and is being threatened with force-feeding by the Israeli military under the new force-feeding law that has been condemned by UN representatives, the Israeli Medical Association and human rights advocates. Click here to take action on Muhammad Allan’s case!

The prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in all Israeli prisons announced on 9 August that their escalation to open hunger strike – earlier announced for Sunday and then delayed until Wednesday – will now take place on Tuesday. Ahmad Sa’adat, for whom the Israeli prison service had promised to end the denial of family visits, was instead ordered to an additional three-month prohibition on family visits on Sunday, even as a one-month ban on family visits was imposed on all Palestinian prisoners in the Negev prison.

The leftist party’s prison branch issued the following statement:

The prison branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, headed by national leader Ahmad Sa’adat, will launch an open hunger strike on Tuesday [11 August], following a stalemate in the negotiations with the Prison administration, brought about by the Prison Service’s intransigence in response to the just demands of the prisoners. In addition, today a military order was issued extending the security prohibition against leader Sa’adat, denying him family visits for an additional three months.

The prison branch confirmed that the Front’s prisoners, led by Sa’adat, have decided to fight a long and difficult battle with the occupation which is not conditioned by any covenants or undertakings, after exhausting all options in order to impel the occupier to respond to the demands of the prisoners.

The PFLP prisoners called on the masses of our people, the Arab and Muslim communities and countries, and the forces of justice and freedom in the world to provide the widest support and solidarity to the struggle of the prisoners’ national movement in the battles of confrontation and steadfastness they are waging around the clock against the prison and intelligence officials of the occupation. The breadth and depth of solidarity gives prisoners inspiration to continue the struggle until their rights are achieved in full.

The PFLP prisoners have put forward their demands:

  • allowing family visits for prisoners who have been, until now, prohibited from such visits with their loved ones, including Palestinian political leader Ahmad Sa’adat;
  • providing necessary and adequate medical care to sick prisoners;
  • ending the policy of administrative detentions;
  • improving the living conditions inside the prisons;
  • prohibiting invasions and raids by special units of the Zionist forces, including the Metsada unit, on the sections and cells of the prisoners.

A Human Chain for Samer Al Issawi: His Hunger, Our Shame

Samer Al Issawi: Day 198 of his Hunger Strike against “administrative detention” in Israel’s prisons:

This article is from Counterpunch, feb. 6th 2013:

by AHMAD BARQAWI
Amman, Jordan.

The human chain stretched into the distance each way; representing the path of Samer Al Issawi’s daily struggle and physical agony, a path of dignity and courage; and a path of our own helplessness and shame; every demonstrator held a placard for each day that passed since Al Issawi started his heroic hunger strike on August 1st, 2012, mine was 101; a three digit number jotted down in bold black markers on a white carton paper; was that the day his internal organs began to fail him? Was that the day his stomach started gnawing at its own entrails, muscle tissues and nerves in search of energy? Was it the day his bone structure began to weaken so much that his legs wouldn’t hold up his diminished weight anymore?

It wasn’t just a number; it was the day Al Issawi passed the one-hundred-day-mark of his ongoing hunger strike for freedom, now death is Samer’s bedfellow, overshadowing every little, shivering movement that his frail muscles could muster, skin stretched paper-thin over skeleton; he’s well on his way into crossing the two hundred day mark with his stomach tying itself into aching knots of hunger and the world is tying its lips in deafening knots of silence.

The turnout exceeded everyone’s expectations considering our now infamous pathological tendency for utter callousness and inaction when it comes to the suffering of Palestinians; the human chain was complete with 193 participants from all ages and walks of life, yet the crowd kept getting bigger; those without a sequential number in the chain settled with holding a sign or a poster of the Palestinian hero, others chanted his name; busting their lungs for a man now certainly much frailer than what he looked like in those pictures we held of him.

Of course the human chain wouldn’t have been complete without the presence of the human terrain of security forces which only added more verve to the largely peaceful proceedings, the wind was so strong that each of us held unto his sign lest it flies away, passers-by quickened their pace as they walked past us and the traffic on one of the notoriously busiest streets in Amman (University Street) slowed down as drivers tried to catch a glimpse of our modest attempt at disturbing the contours of our collective anesthetized conscience for a cause that seems to be lost in the tall grass of our reshuffled priorities and the Arab World’s bonfire of revolutions and counter-revolutions.

How can we not think of Samer Al Issawi while we’re picking up exorbitant tabs at five star hotels and fancy restaurants for a microscopic tiny portion of “exotic” food? How can we not curse our chronic passiveness and the fact that our moral abyss widens and grows ever darker with each passing day on Samer’s imprisonment? How can we casually keep his cause on the periphery of our consciousness when Samer’s life clock is hurriedly ticking away? How can I not think of Samer Al Issawi each time my stomach starts wailing that it hasn’t been fed in a couple of hours; that I am somehow committing some kind of “massive injustice” against my own wellbeing by not marching up to the kitchen and cramming whatever it is that I find in there into my mouth? I guess having an empty belly is a hundred times better than having a heart devoid of courage and dignity.

With an empty stomach and shackled to a wheel chair; Samer Al Issawi is now leading the rather “forgotten” battle of the “Empty Intestines” of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails against the Occupation’s draconian policies of arbitrary arrest and “administrative detention”; a rather vindictive colonial procedure that has maneuvered over 200 Palestinian prisoners into a life long struggle in which they had no choice but to literally selfstarve their own way out, while Palestinian politicians -well beyond their expiry date- and bickering factions have clumsily steered an entire occupied people’s fate into the gutter while wearing silk ties, walking on red carpets, and traveling in private jets, is there no depth of cynicism and moral depravity that we can’t reach when we jubilantly cheer that finally two junior officials of Fatah and Hamas managed to meet in Cairo at a time when a true Palestinian freedom fighter is silently weathering away right before our eyes?

Samer Al Issawi’s life is in danger; the fact that we’re not hammered with his story everyday by the mainstream media doesn’t make his struggle any less real, urgent and frightening.

Another human chain is planned for next week; seven more people will be added to the chain; unless the iron will of Samer prevails or his heroic hunger strike ends with an obituary before we manage to pull a repeat of this week’s demonstration.

Ahmad Barqawi, a Jordanian freelance columnist & writer based in Amman, he has done several studies, statistical analysis and researches on economic and social development in Jordan.

Follow Samer Al Assawi’s supporters on Twitter: Twitter.com/samerissawi1

Idaho Man Sues Corrections Corporation of America

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A former inmate is suing a private prison company, saying guards watched as he was beaten by a fellow inmate in an attack that went on so long his assailant had time to stop and drink some water before continuing.

Attorneys for Hanni Elabed filed the lawsuit against the Correction Corporation of America in Boise’s U.S. District Court late last week, saying their client was left brain damaged and may never fully recover from the assault at the Idaho Correctional Center near Boise.

Elabed is asking for punitive damages and compensation in an amount to be proven in court.

Steven Owens, the public affairs director for CCA, said the Nashville, Tenn.-based company doesn’t comment on lawsuits other than through court filings.

According to the lawsuit, Elabed was serving time on a robbery conviction when he was beaten. His attorneys said at least three guards and another ICC staffer watched while he was stomped and kicked, and that they failed to intervene even when his attacker stopped for several minutes to get a drink and catch his breath.

The lawsuit echoes complaints lodged in other recent lawsuits against the company in which other Idaho inmates allege they were knowingly exposed to violence from other inmates and then denied proper medical care in an effort to cover up the extent of their injuries.

Elabed’s case, however, details what may be the most extreme allegations yet to come out of the state’s only private prison.

Elabed was 24 in 2008 and addicted to Oxycontin, when he pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to two to 12 years in prison. He was transferred to the Idaho Correctional Center, where Elabed, who is Muslim and of Palestinian decent, told his family he was being harassed by inmates — including his cellmate — who were members of a white supremacist gang.

The lawsuit said the harassment escalated until his cellmate attacked Elabed and broke his jawbone. After that attack, Elabed was moved to another cellblock within the prison where he said the gang abused and threatened him.
The lawsuit said he tried to get help from prison staffers, telling them that he’d been threatened and giving them details about drug trafficking between inmates and staffers that he had witnessed.

That prompted ICC officials to move Elabed to administrative segregation for several days, according to the lawsuit, before moving him back into the same cellblock. Just before the move, Elabed told his parents that he believed several guards were planning to tell the other inmates that he had identified them as drug traffickers.

He was moved into the cellblock on Jan. 18 and within minutes of his arrival, he was attacked by one of the gang members “in plain view of video surveillance cameras and multiple ICC staff who passively observed from behind a window,” Elabed’s attorney, Benjamin Schwartzman, wrote.

The guards ordered all the inmates to their rooms, according to the lawsuit, leaving only Elabed and his assailant in the main area.

His attorney said the attacker then knocked Elabed to the floor and stomped on his head. He described the blows as “delivered with such ferocity and energy that the attacking gang member was forced to catch his breath and refresh himself at a drinking fountain, afterward.”

Elabed claimed that during the break, he managed to get up and pleaded with guards who continued to watch as his assailant resumed the attack.

The beating didn’t end until he was unconscious and convulsing in a pool of blood, the lawsuit said.

Elabed’s attorney said staffers had an ambulance take Elabed to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with traumatic subarachnoid brain hemorrhage. They prevented the hospital from taking any pictures of Elabed’s injuries, the lawsuit said, and removed him after he was stabilized in an overnight stay.

His attorney said Elabed was returned to the hospital three days later after he was not given treatment at the prison. Elabed later was given a medical parole, his attorney said.

His attorney added that since the beating, his client gets confused easily, jumps at loud noises and can’t keep his attention focused. He soothes himself by rocking and rubbing his arms, and has significant mental impairment, Schwartzman said.

“We know that he was normal before. He was no honor student, but he could hold down a job. Now he gets confused trying to put his own clothes away …,” Schwartzman said.

The case is complicated in part because Elabed lost his memory of the beating and the events preceding it, Schwartzman said. His attorneys have had to rely on witness accounts to determine much of what happened but they said the stories are consistent.

The Ada County prosecutor has charged James Haver, an inmate serving time for aggravated assault and battery, with aggravated battery in connection with Elabed’s case. A preliminary hearing for Haver has been set for May.