Protests mount for hunger-striking prisoners
The articles in this posting centre on the hunger strike and the protests against administrative detention. At the same as protests in solidarity with hunger strikers were taking place, there were protests against the separation wall mainly in the Tulkarem area.
1) PHR-IL: Hunger Strike Enters its 40th Day with 70 Already Hospitalized, as PM Netanyahu Pushes for Force Feeding Law.;
2) Addameer: Human rights organizations request immediate intervention from EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton on behalf of Palestinian Hunger Strikers, letter from Ministry of detainees and NGOs;
3)AFP: Israeli, Palestinian NGOs petition EU on hunger strikers;
4) Protests against Wall and for right of return, photos from Tulkarem, May 31st, 2014;
Protesters gather to demonstrate in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, at the al-Aroub Palestinian refugee camp on May 31, 2014 © Hazem Bader – AFP
Hunger Strike Enters its 40th Day with 70 Already Hospitalized, as PM Netanyahu Pushes for Force Feeding Law.
Although the crisis is one of human rights and politics, the Israeli government expects the medical community to use its expertise and violate its ethics to subdue it.
Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR-IL), the Israeli Medical Association (IMA), and the National Bioethics Institute, all voiced their objection to forced feeding as a practice that is completely and always prohibited. However, despite this firm opposition by the medical community to a proposed law to enable force feeding, the government is resolved not only to pass the law, but also to find doctors who will comply with it. This process is extremely dangerous, manifesting Israel’s government’s inability not only to negotiate a life-saving peaceful resolution with the hunger striking prisoners and detainees, but even to hold a respectful discussion with its own medical community.
Thus, Israel’s government sends a dismal message to its citizens: all ethics, professional standards and alternative discourse are silenced in the face of the official policy of oppression – if not by will then by law.
The government held a special cabinet meeting on June 2nd on the issue of the hunger strike. When prime-minister Netanyahu was informed of IMA’s position that if the bill was to pass, the IMA would not allow Israeli physicians to take part in force-feeding prisoners, he retorted that the government would be able to find other physicians who would defy the IMA. He cited the U.S. military’s force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. (http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=17943)
Palestinian protesters hold pictures of family members as they demonstrate in Nablus demanding the release of prisoners on hunger strike held in Israeli jails. Photo by Alaa Badarneh / European Pressphoto Agency
Taking into consideration that neither IPS nor military doctors are members of the IMA, and are in a more precarious position, PHR Israel believes that utmost efforts should be made to protect them from being pressured by the authorities. Therefore it is of crucial importance to first prevent the proposed law from passing, and – in the event that it does pass – to support and encourage all doctors to refuse to respect it.
In the meantime one of the results of PHR-IL’s struggle during the previous hunger strike seems to be an improved access of independent doctors to currently hunger striking inmates. Following more than 30 court appeals by PHR-IL, the IPS has finally announced that they are committed to respond to all requests within no more than 10 days and that such a commitment will be written as part of the IPS orders.
PHR-IL has already submitted dozens of requests to IPS for independent doctors to be given access to visit the hunger strikers hospitalized in Meir, Ichilov and HaEmek hospitals. On June 3rd PHR-IL received IPS response conditioning the visit on hospitals authorization and then re-coordination with the IPS itself.
PHR-IL will keep on monitoring and updating as to its activities and its struggle against the law proposal. All efforts must be made before this crisis deteriorates risking the health and lives of the hunger strikers while trampling on the medical community. Doctors can and should be their patients’ advocates and defenders, and they have a potentially crucial positive effect if they abide by their ethics and professional standards.
PHR-IL thus urges the international diplomatic and medical community to call on the Israeli government to:
a) Release all administrative detainees. As a policy, Israel is holding Palestinian administrative detainees, some for prolonged periods, without trial or charges. Some are released and rearrested again and again.
b) Negotiate a life-saving and peaceful resolution with hunger strikers
c) Support Israel’s medical community in its objection to the proposed law that will allow force feeding and sanction torture.
For more details please contact Amany Dayif, director, prisoners department: firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> or myself firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>
Public Outreach and medical ethics,
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
Human rights organizations request immediate intervention from EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton on behalf of Palestinian Hunger Strikers
Baroness Catherine Ashton
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Vice-President of the European Commission
242, rue de la Loi
Date: 01 June 2014
Re: Mass Hunger Strike of Palestinian ‘Administrative Detainees’
Dear High Representative,
We, the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs and the undersigned human rights organizations, wish to bring to your attention the on-going mass hunger strike involving approximately 125 Palestinian detainees and prisoners and request your urgent intervention on their behalf.
The majority of the hunger strikers are protesting the continued administrative detention, which is detention without trial or charge. Administrative detention orders are issued by the Israeli Military Commander in the West Bank for periods of one to six months and can be renewed indefinitely. Administrative detainees or their lawyers are not informed of the reasons for their detention and are only informed that there is ‘secret evidence’ against them.
While administrative detention is legal under the Fourth Geneva Convention it must be used on an individual case by case basis without discrimination of any kind. However Israel has used administrative detention on a systematic basis against tens of thousands of Palestinians and is an ever present threat in the daily lives of all Palestinians. Instead of being used on an individual case by case basis it is used as punishment against the Palestinian people, as well a means of disrupting the political process given the continuous targeting of Palestinian Legislative Council members. We firmly believe that Israel’s use of administrative detention should cease immediately.
As you are aware Palestinian political prisoners have undertaken a number of hunger strikes since 2011, both on an individual and mass basis. The current strike was launched on 24 April when approximately 90 detainees began refusing food in protest of their continued administrative detention. The strike has since escalated as more detainees and prisoners have joined and the numbers continue to rise.
As of 1 June the majority of the hunger strikers have gone without food for 38 days. We have reached a critical stage and unless there is immediate intervention there will be dire consequences for the health of all those on strike. Many of the hunger strikers have recently stopped taking vitamins and are now consuming only water, which drastically increases the risk of death.
Following the launch of the strike the Israeli authorities immediately began taking punitive measures against the hunger strikers. These included the immediate isolation of all hunger strikers away from the rest of the prison population. Many of hunger strikers have also been transferred to different prisons, while the leaders of the hunger strike have also been placed in isolation. All hunger strikers have been denied salt for the first fifteen days of their strike.
The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) and Israeli Special Forces have also been conducting violent raids on the prisoner’s cells and intrusive searches the prisoners on a daily basis. In many cases the hunger strikers have been beaten and injured during these raids and were subsequently denied medical treatment.
Family visits were also immediately banned for a period of four months, with the leaders of the strike being banned visits for six months. The Israeli authorities are also attempting to limit access to the hunger strikers by restricting lawyer visits, making it extremely difficult to get a clear picture of what is actually happening inside the prisons.
The hunger strikers have also boycotted the prison clinic as they accuse the prison physicians of conspiring with the IPS to beak the strike, in violation of the World Medical Association’s Malta Declaration on Hunger Strikers. It is worth noting that many of these same tactics have been used by the Israeli authorities in an attempt to break previous strikes.
We would also like to inform you that there are currently six members of the Palestinian Legislative Council on hunger strike, all of whom are being held under administrative detention.
Another issue to major concern is the possibility that the force-feeding of prisoners will be legalized by the Israeli Knesset. The proposal for such force-feeding has recently been approved and, if voted into legislation, would have serious consequences for all those currently on hunger strike and those who wish to undertake hunger strikes in the future. According to the World Medical Association Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers, “Forcible feeding is never ethically acceptable”.
As you are aware the mass hunger strike of 2012 ended on 14 May 2012 after an agreement was reached between representatives of the prisoners and the IPS. At this time it was agreed that Israel would limit the use of administrative to only ‘exceptional circumstances’, as is required under international law. However, it is quite clear that Israel has reneged on the agreement as it has continued to use administrative detention on a systematic basis which has compelled the prisoners to launch a fresh strike.
Other elements of the May 2012 agreement which Israel has failed to honor are improvements in prison conditions; ending isolation as a policy; the reintroduction of education which was taking away in 2007; and the resumption of have family visits for Gaza prisoners. However, although visits for Gaza prisoners have resumed they are only taking place every two months as opposed to every two weeks for prisoners from the West Bank and Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Finally we would like to highlight the important role that Palestinian political prisoners can play as actors and agents for political change, as was shown in the 2006 National Conciliation Document of the Prisoners, which formed the basis for the recent reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas. While Israel has continually attempted to sideline the prisoners for its own political and strategic purposes we feel that the prisoners must and can play a central role in bringing about a genuine and lasting peace.
We call on you in your capacity as High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to immediately:
· Publically voice concern for the hunger strikers and inform the Israeli authorities that hunger strikers are a legitimate form of protest which should not be met with punitive measures.
· Publically voice concern over Israel’s continued systematic use of administrative detention.
· Pressure Israel to honor its 14 May 2012 agreement by improving prison conditions; ending the use of isolation as a policy; reintroduce access education for all prisoners; resume of bi-weekly visits for Gaza prisoners; and end the use of administrative detention; all of which are in accordance with internationally accepted norms regarding the rights of prisoners.
Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association
Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Defence for Children International – Palestine Section
Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
Hurryyat –Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling
Palestinian Center for Human Rights
The Public Committee against Torture in Israel
Adalah – The Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
Arab Association for Human Rights
Palestinian Prisoners Society
Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs
Below Israeli soldiers arrested Palestinian men in the El Aroub refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Hebron, 31 May 2014. Protesters were calling on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners held in their jails. Photo by Abed Al Hashlamoun / EFE/EPA
Over 200 security prisoners are protesting Israel’s administrative detention practices
By AFP / Times of Israel
June 01, 2014
Palestinian and Israeli rights groups on Sunday wrote to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton demanding her “urgent intervention” on behalf of 125 prisoners on long-term hunger strike.
The letter was sent as the overall number of Palestinian prisoners refusing food climbed to 290, including 70 being treated in hospital, an Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman told AFP.
Of that number, 125 have been on hunger strike for more than five weeks, beginning their mass protest on or shortly after April 24, Palestinian rights groups say.
Most of the prisoners are administrative detainees who are refusing to eat in protest over their being held without trial in a procedure which can be extended indefinitely.
“We… wish to bring to your attention the ongoing mass hunger strike involving approximately 125 Palestinian detainees and prisoners, and request your urgent intervention on their behalf,” said the letter, signed by 17 rights groups and the Palestinian prisoners’ affairs ministry.
“As of June 1, the majority of the hunger strikers have gone without food for 38 days.
“We have reached a critical stage and unless there is immediate intervention there will be dire consequences for the health of all those on strike,” it said.
Among those refusing food are six parliamentarians from the Palestinian Legislative Council, all of whom are administrative detainees, the letter said. Palestinian officials said they had only recently joined the strike.
Many had stopped taking vitamins and were only drinking water, it said, accusing Israel of withholding salt from them for the first fortnight of their strike.
The IPS denied the allegation, with spokeswoman Sivan Weizman telling AFP the detainees had been given “everything as required by law”.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior figure with the Palestine Liberation Organisation accused Israel of “systematically” using administrative detention as a tool for the collective punishment of Palestinians.
“We call on all states… to pressure Israel to drop its cruel and illegal use of the colonial practice of administrative detention and other administrative punitive measures,” she said in a statement.
Two years ago, more than 1,500 prisoners staged a four-week hunger strike which ended with a deal in which Israel agreed not to extend the prison terms of those in administrative detention unless fresh evidence against them emerged.
Israel also agreed to return those in solitary detention back to the general prison population as well as allowing a resumption of family visits for detainees who come from Gaza.
About 5,000 Palestinians are being held in Israeli prisons, nearly 200 of them under administrative detention orders, which allow suspects to be jailed without trial for up to six months.
Such orders can be renewed indefinitely by a military court.
Israeli soldiers fire tear gas and arrest protesters during a demonstration against the Israeli-built West Bank separation barrier and calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees, in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, Saturday, May 31, 2014. Photos by Nasser Ishtayeh, AP