Al-Awda Press Advisory: Fast in Solidarity with Palestinian Political Prisoners

Saturday 28 August 7 am through Monday 30 August 7 am

Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition in the United States and Canada is calling upon the International Right to Return movement and its allies to participate in a coordinated 48-hour fast in solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prison camps.

Some 7500 political prisoners are currently held by Israel, 1000 of whom are “administrative detainees” imprisoned without trial.

Since August 15, 2004 thousands of Palestinian prisoners have been participating in a hunger-strike, demanding that the systematic abuse they are suffering under the Israeli authorities be stopped including:

1. Arbitrary and indiscriminate beating of prisoners in their cells, in prison courtyards and during transportation to and from prisons.

2. Arbitrary and indiscriminate firing of tear gas into prisoner’s cells and prison courtyards and intimidation of prisoners by guards entering their cells with guns.

3. Humiliating strip searches of prisoners in full view of other prisoners and guards each time they enter or exit their cells.

4. Subjecting prisoners to solitary confinement for excessive periods of time, for months and even years.

5. Arbitrary imposition of financial penalties on prisoners for minor infractions, arbitrary revocation of visitation rights and extended confinement to cells as punishment for minor infractions such as singing or speaking too loudly.

6. Confining children with adult prisoners and political prisoners with criminals.

7. Withholding or delaying medical treatment and the provision of medication to sick detainees.

8. Severely restricting the category of family members entitled to visit prisoners thus denying visitation rights to other close family members.

9. Arbitrary denial of travel permits to family members of prisoners living in the West Bank or Gaza so that they cannot travel to prisons to see their relatives.

10. Imposing conditions on travel for family members and obstacles that result in travel of a few hours being prolonged to 16 or 17 hours for a 45-minute visit.

11. Conducting humiliating strip searches of visiting family members even though they are usually separated from the prisoners by a full glass barrier as well as a wire mesh barrier. Providing such poor visitation facilities that prisoners find it difficult to see or hear their loved ones.

12. Maintaining prisoners on near starvation diets that are insufficient to sustain health.

13. Applying rules concerning items that prisoners may receive from their families arbitrarily and inconsistently, on the whim of the guards, with each visit.

14. Withdrawing studying privileges that in the past allowed prisoners to continue their high school or university studies through correspondence courses

When informed by the prisoners of their intended hunger strike, prison authorities responded with harsher treatment, including confiscation of water and salt. Reports in the Israeli media consistently undermine the prisoners’ protest, while presenting it as motivated by secondary material improvements of their conditions. The barbaric and racist reaction of the Israeli authorities, can be summed up in Israeli Minister Hanegbi’s statement “let them strike till death”.

Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, along with the entire international solidarity movement with the Palestinian people, join the Prisoners’ families and the Palestinian people to express solidarity with the prisoners, in support of their demands to receive the fundamental rights they are entitled to under the Israeli and international laws and in demand for the release of all political prisoners.

-end-

Sources:

The Committee for the Families of Political Prisoners and Detainees in the
West Bank //www.palsolidarity.org/prisoners
Telephone: (972) 2 277 4602

Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association
//www.addameer.org

Defense Children International Palestine Section
//www.dci-pal.org/first.html