Urgent public statement 12 May 2012
On 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners jailed by Israel commenced a general hunger strike. Some of them started the strike already some 70 days ago; the strike is hence currently in a critical stage in which the lives of several strikers are in immediate danger. Many prisoners have been transferred to hospitals due to their deteriorating health conditions.
Our immediate demand from the Israeli authorities is to free all administrative detainees, both those on hunger strike and those who are not. We call for an end to the policy of administrative detention as a method of arbitrary detention, which results in the jailing of people without trial, on the basis of confidential evidence and without providing a reason and justification for the detainees and their attorneys. This practice contravenes fundamental standards of justice and represents an example of Israel’s blatant disregard of international conventions and norms anchored in international humanitarian law and international human rights conventions.
The immediate reason for the strike should not be forgotten: the occupation forces and their executing branch – the prison services – continue to ignore the just demands of the detainees for an end to the policy of isolation, for the right of prisoners from the Gaza Strip to receive family visits, a right which has been denied for years, an improvement in health services and against strip searches, which harm the fundamental human rights of the prisoners. Alongside this, the hunger striking prisoners insist on struggling not only for their human right to live with dignity, but also their right to live as Palestinians. The hunger strike of the prisoners is also being conducted in the name of a national principle, the overall struggle for freeing Palestine from the occupation.
The ongoing disregard by the authorities of the human demands of the hunger striking detainees exposes the real face of the state of Israel as an occupation state, which employs all means at its disposal to break the spirit and humanity of the detainees.
Beyond the national meaning, the issue of detainees and particularly their strike is a clear humanitarian issue. We call on the public, on organisations and individuals, both local and international, to act to save the detainees’ lives and to pressure Israel as the occupying force to respect their rights.
A worsening of the situation of the striking detainees, the transfer of many of them to hospitals and the invasion by Israeli security forces into their detention cells, their isolation and the physical and psychological pressure applied on them so they will cease the strike – all of these augment fear for their lives.
There is a need for intensive political and diplomatic efforts to bring to world attention the prisoners’ issue and suffering, to convey a clear message which responds appropriately to the detainees’ willingness to sacrifice, in view of the importance of the prisoners’ issue for the Palestinian people and the widespread popular actions in support of the prisoners. We hope this will increase international pressure on the occupation forces to comply with the prisoners’ demands.
We express full solidarity with the demands of the hunger striking prisoners in their just struggle. We also express our deep concern for their lives, particularly in light of the ongoing disregard of their demands by the obtuse Israeli authorities, which scorn all international conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and continue to violate Palestinian human rights, particularly prisoner rights.