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.

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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