Towards Liberation! After 40 days, Palestinians suspend mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons

UPDATE: New details released on agreement to suspend Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike Read here

http://samidoun.net/2017/05/breaking-palestinian-prisoners-suspend-hunger-strike-after-40-days-of-struggle/

May 26, 2017 — After 40 days of hunger strike, Palestinian prisoners have suspended their hunger strike and announced that they have achieved victory in their humanitarian demands, following 20 hours of negotiations between the strikers’ leadership and Israeli occupation prison administration.

All salutes to the courageous, struggling Palestinian prisoners, on the front lines of the Palestinian struggle for liberation! Their victories and their struggles are those of the Palestinian people and of all people seeking justice and liberation.

And salutes to all of those around the world who have been part of the prisoners’ struggle and Palestinian victory for the past 40 days.

Freedom Theater

Victory, Towards Liberation: Salute to the Palestinian Prisoners and the Struggle for Freedom

May 27, 2017—  On the occasion of the victory of the Strike of Freedom and Dignity, the valiant battle of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails, confronting the occupier with their bodies and their lives, we salute the Palestinian prisoners on achieving their victory, not only for themselves and their families, but for the entire Palestinian people and global movement for justice and liberation.

….While further information about the agreement has not yet been released, news indicates that further achievements of the strike also center on the issue of family visits, including access to more relatives including grandparents and grandchildren; improved communication, especially between imprisoned children and women and their families, and the installation of public telephones; easing security prohibitions and the frequent bans on family visit imposed by the Israeli prison administration. Al-Mayadeen TV reported further aspects of the agreement:

  • periodic entry of private external physicians to examine ill prisoners
  • allowing visits from family members of the “second class,” including grandparents and grandchildren
  • increasing the amount prisoners may have in their canteen (prison store, where nearly all necessities of life must be purchased from and Israeli corporation) accounts
  • adding 3 satellite channels to the prisoners’ TV access
  •  transferring the Ramla prison hospital to the old section which includes several rooms and a recreation area
  • installation of a public telephone for women prisoners, child prisoners and ill prisoners to communicate on a daily basis with their family members
  • family visits to be increased to 60 minutes from 45 minutes
  • photographs with parents once annually
  • increasing the quantities of meat, vegetables and fruits for prisoners
  • allowing the introduction of clothing such as trousers and bags
  • providing each prisoner with 1 liter olive oil, 1 kilo coffee, 1/2 kilo baklava and 1/2 kilo za’atar.

…. Throughout the strike, the prisoners faced harsh repression. They were denied legal visits, family visits, beset by repressive raids, their belongings confiscated – even the salt that they relied on with water to preserve their life and health. Through it all, their steadfastness was an example of commitment and dedication to carry through their struggle. They were not alone in their steadfastness. The mothers and the families of the prisoners filled the tents of solidarity and support in every city, town, village and refugee camp in Palestine. Many prisoners’ mothers launched their own hunger strikes; they struggled, suffered, resisted and led alongside their children. Martyrs fell on the streets of Palestine as they protested and struggled for the liberation of their beloved prisoners at the hands of the occupation forces.

The Palestinian prisoners made clear through the Strike of Dignity and Freedom the power of Palestinian unity. The imprisoned leadership of all Palestinian trends stood together to confront the occupier, while that unity was felt in struggle, on the streets and inside prison walls – and the effects of that unity have been felt in the achievement of the prisoners’ victory.

The hunger strikers demanded that the Israeli occupation speak with their chosen leadership and defeated all attempts to circumvent the prisoners’ direction, leadership and choices.

More than that, however, they demonstrated once again that the true, respected leadership of the Palestinian national liberation movement itself is found in the Palestinian prisoners’ movement. The Palestinian prisoners’ movement is at the core of the liberation struggle of the Palestinian people as a whole; far from a side issue of the movement, it represents the Palestinian people and their resistance.       Read full article here

After 40 days, Palestinians suspend mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons

http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=777343

May 27, 2017 BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons suspended a 40-day mass hunger strike during dawn hours on Saturday, after reaching an agreement with the Israel Prison Service (IPS) that reinstated the prisoners’ family visitation sessions to two times per month, according to initial information from Palestinian leadership and an IPS spokesperson.

The agreements came on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, for which some hunger strikers had vowed to fast and forgo the salt and water mixture being consumed by the prisoners from dawn until sunset — the only source of nutrients the hunger strikers were consuming.

Palestinian leaders applauded the prisoners’ “victory” on Saturday, saying that the agreement represented an “important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.”

However, increasing family visits was but one of a number of demands hunger-striking prisoners were calling for — including the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial.

….A Palestinian source knowledgeable about negotiations elaborated to Ma’an later Saturday afternoon that the talks started Friday at 9 a.m. at Ashkelon prison, initially in the absence of Marwan Barghouthi. …

However, the sources said that negotiations did not make progress until IPS agreed to bring in Marwan Barghouthi, who had been held in a solitary confinement cell in Jalama prison since the first day of the strike.The sources said that after Barghouthi’s arrival, IPS then “immediately agreed to some of the prisoners’ demands” and promised to respond positively to them.

At 4:20 a.m. Saturday, a phone call was made between the imprisoned leaders of the hunger strike and officials from the PA and the Fatah movement outside of Israeli prisons, and after discussions, Marwan Barghouthi agreed to end hunger strike, the sources said.

The IPS spokesperson confirmed to Ma’an that Barghouthi was involved in the agreements that ended the hunger strike, but said that IPS was not considering the talks “negotiations,” as they only reinstated a previous policy and did not provide any new concessions to the prisoners.

The IPS spokesperson told Ma’an that some 834 prisoners remained on strike to the 40th day, and that 18 prisoners who remained hospitalized would be returned to Israeli prison following the improvement of their health conditions.

….A spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Xavier Abu Eid released a statement Saturday by the “Free Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners’ international campaign,” saying that the hunger strike had “prevailed.”

“This is an important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners under international law. It is also an indication of the reality of the Israeli occupation which has left no option to Palestinian prisoners but to starve themselves to achieve basic rights they are entitled to under international law,” the statement read.

As the statement pointed out, the hunger strike was one of the longest strikes in Palestinian history and included a wide participation of Palestinian prisoners from across political factions. “The epic resilience and determination of the hunger strikers and their refusal to end their hunger strike despite the repression and very harsh conditions they endured allowed for their will to prevail over the will of the jailer.”

Israeli forces had attempted to break the hunger strike through various punitive measures — with the measures being repeatedly condemned by human rights organizations — including putting hunger strikers in solitary confinement, “inciting” against the hunger strikers and their leaders — most notably Barghouthi, and threatening to force feed the hunger strikers, the statement highlighted.

Scores of Palestinian prisoners were also transferred to Israeli hospitals during the hunger strike, with reports emerging that prisoners were vomiting blood and fainting. Palestinian leaders had feared possible deaths among the hunger strikers if their demands were not met.

The statement went on to thank all those who stood in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners, particularly former political prisoners in South Africa, Ireland, and Argentina. “The Palestinian people are a nation held captive, and the Palestinian prisoners are the reflection of this painful reality,” the statement read.

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PHSS Statement in Support of Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike

STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF PALESTINIAN PRISONERS ON HUNGER STRIKE

April 28, 2017

 The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition stands in strong solidarity with the over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike protesting their torturous conditions and treatment in Israeli prisons. As a coalition that came together to support California prisoners in solitary confinement that went on hunger strikes and issued five core demands, we support all of your demands, particularly raising your call to end solitary confinement, administrative detention, and the attacks on family visits.

Solidarity between our struggles is not new. Upon starting their third hunger  strike in 2013, prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison in California received a letter of support from former Palestinian political prisoner Khader Adnan, who himself had been on hunger strike for 66 days. As a direct result of their hunger  strikes and sacrifices, and because of the solidarity and support like that of Adnan, the prisoners’ movement in California achieved an historic legal victory against the use of solitary confinement in 2015.

We hold hope for you and will fight with you towards liberation from California, to Palestine, to everywhere where people are struggling against oppression and injustice.

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, a coalition of supporters and communicators for prisoner rights.

pdf of Statement here: https://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/phss-palestinian-hunger-strike-statement.pdf

Over 1,500 Palestinian Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Israeli Prisons

Freedom & Dignity Strike

New Statement from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement Reaffirms Urgent Call For Support 

April 26, 2017  Day 10
The Palestinian prisoners’ movement participating in the hunger strike in Israeli prisons issued a new statement on 26 April, the 10th day of the hunger strike which began 17 April 2017, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.

The over 1500 hunger strikers have a series of demands, including an end to the denial of family visits, the right to appropriate health care, the right to education in prison and an end to solitary confinement and “administrative detention,” imprisonment without charge or trial.  Read full statement here by the Palestinian Prisoners Movement on behalf of the strikers and translated to English.

Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons

By Marwan Barghouti – April 16, 2017  Day 1
NY Times Opinion Pages

HADARIM PRISON, Israel — Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike.

Some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have decided to take part in this hunger strike, which begins today, the day we observe here as Prisoners’ Day. Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells.

Decades of experience have proved that Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong, by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their families and communities, using humiliating measures to compel subjugation. In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it.

Israel, the occupying power, has violated international law in multiple ways for nearly 70 years, and yet has been granted impunity for its actions. It has committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions against the Palestinian people; the prisoners, including men, women and children, are no exception.

I was only 15 when I was first imprisoned. I was barely 18 when an Israeli interrogator forced me to spread my legs while I stood naked in the interrogation room, before hitting my genitals. I passed out from the pain, and the resulting fall left an everlasting scar on my forehead. The interrogator mocked me afterward, saying that I would never procreate because people like me give birth only to terrorists and murderers.

A few years later, I was again in an Israeli prison, leading a hunger strike, when my first son was born. Instead of the sweets we usually distribute to celebrate such news, I handed out salt to the other prisoners. When he was barely 18, he in turn was arrested and spent four years in Israeli prisons.

The eldest of my four children is now a man of 31. Yet here I still am, pursuing this struggle for freedom along with thousands of prisoners, millions of Palestinians and the support of so many around the world. What is it with the arrogance of the occupier and the oppressor and their backers that makes them deaf to this simple truth: Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost.

Israel has built nearly all of its prisons inside Israel rather than in the occupied territory. In doing so, it has unlawfully and forcibly transferred Palestinian civilians into captivity, and has used this situation to restrict family visits and to inflict suffering on prisoners through long transports under cruel conditions. It turned basic rights that should be guaranteed under international law — including some painfully secured through previous hunger strikes — into privileges its prison service decides to grant us or deprive us of.

Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence. Some have been killed while in detention. According to the latest count from the Palestinian Prisoners Club, about 200 Palestinian prisoners have died since 1967 because of such actions. Palestinian prisoners and their families also remain a primary target of Israel’s policy of imposing collective punishments.

Through our hunger strike, we seek an end to these abuses.

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