Thousands of Palestinian prisoners start open hunger strike

PNN/ Bethlehem/

About 1,600 Palestinian prisoners on  Palestinian Prisoners’ Day 17th April 2017, have started an open hunger strike lead by PLO leader, Marwan Al-Barghouthi, as a  protest calling for basic needs & rights.

The prisoners call to an end to the practice of arbitrary administrative detention, torture, ill-treatment, unfair trials, detention of children, medical negligence, solitary confinement, inhuman/degrading treatment, deprivation of basic rights such as visits and the right to education.

In addition, the most important demands that the prisoners seek to achieve are ending the isolation and the administrative detention policies, providing a public phone for prisoners to communicate with their families as well as other demands related to medical treatment and family visits.

The Palestinian prisoners have launched 23 hunger strikes in Israeli jails since 1967, the most recent of which was a 63-day hunger strike by administrative detainees in 2014. Since 2012, the prisoners, especially the administrative detainees, have carried out dozens of individual hunger strikes and they are still ongoing.

6,500 prisoners are being held in Israeli jails including 58 women, 300 children, 500 administrative detainees and 1,800 sick prisoners.

Ashrawi: On the occasion of Prisoners’ Day and the collective hunger strike, we pay tribute to our prisoners for their courage and steadfastness

Marking Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi issued the following statement:

“On the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day and the start of the collective and open-ended hunger strike which is led by imprisoned Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Marwan Barghouthi and will be joined by more than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners representing various political factions, we honor and pay great tribute to our prisoners for their courage, continued steadfastness and commitment to independence and justice in the face of the belligerent military occupier.

Since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip began nearly 50 years ago, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel, and in the past two years alone, at least 13 discriminatory and racist laws have been enacted by the Israeli government that deliberately target Palestinian prisoners and are in direct violation of international law and conventions, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (the Third Geneva Convention), the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966.

“The entire global community should be alarmed by Israel’s willful breach and devaluation of the rights and lives of Palestinian political prisoners, especially in regards to the imprisonment and ill-treatment of Palestinian men, women, children, and the elderly. Israel continues to employ repressive and illegal measures against the Palestinian prisoners; these include the extreme and unjust use of administrative detention and solitary confinement, the transfer of detainees from occupied Palestine to Israel, the deliberate medical neglect and lack of health care, the constant prevention of visitations by family members, and the denial of adequate education for prisoners. Israel must not be given a free hand to systematically dehumanize the Palestinian people without any serious accountability or punitive measures.”

On behalf of the PLO Executive Committee and Palestinian people everywhere, Ashrawi fully supported all the prisoners who will bravely go on hunger strike to expose the cruel policies of the Israeli Prison Service; they represent the most selfless struggle for justice and freedom in Palestine, and expose the criminality of the continued military occupation. Their nonviolent actions should be acknowledged and embraced by all members of the international community.

“We also affirm the Palestinian leadership’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the safe and unconditional release of all 6,500 Palestinian political prisoners, including 57 women, 300 children, 13 members of the PLC (most of whom are being held under the extreme and unlawful practice of administrative detention), 500 administrative detainees, 800 prisoners who require medical care (85 of whom suffer from serious and chronic conditions), and 18 journalists. This grave matter remains a top priority for us, and even though Israel continues to violate international law and conventions, terms of reference and signed agreements that guarantee the release of Palestinian prisoners, we will continue to pursue diplomatic and multilateral means to seek freedom and justice for all Palestinian prisoners, their families and loved ones.”

ِAshrawi called on all members of the international community to bring Israel to end its inhumane treatment of Palestinian prisoners. In particular, we urge the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to act in accordance with human rights and justice and to ensure that Israel adheres to international law and conventions with respect to Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.”

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