NPK-info 18-08-2004- Nederlands Palestina Komitee /
Support Palestinian Prisoners on Strike
- Send letters of support: palprisoner@yahoo.com
- As Far As We Are Concerned, August 16, 2004, MIFTAH
"As far as I'm concerned they can strike for a day, a month, until
death," said Israeli Internal Security Minister Hanegbi.
Zie berichten hierna.


Meer bezettingsberichten
- 1,000 New Housing Units in West Bank Settlements
  August 17, 2004, MIFTAH
- Torture of Palestinians in the Heart of Romantic Landscape
  Sami Abu Salem writing from Gaza, occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine,
17 August 2004


En verzet
- Freedom March Builds as it Near Jerusalem
  August 17, 2004, ISM Media Office
- Boycott Israeli Apartheid
- International Solidarity


NPK/WL, 18-8-2004


For Immediate Release
16 August 2004


Support Palestinian Prisoners on Strike


Please Distribute Widely


Never Forget Our Comrades, Our Brothers and Sisters
Write to Striking Palestinian Prisoners


Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition is sponsoring a letter
writing campaign of support to Palestinian prisoners, especially those who
started a hunger strike on 15 August 2004.


We are asking organizations and individuals from all over the world to send
their letters of support to our comrades in Israeli prisons to:
or by fax  to: 1-928-752-8355 .


We will then present these letters to the prisoners and their families.


Over 7500 Palestinian men, women, and children are currently being held in
Israeli prisons. The prisoners are denied all basic human rights guaranteed
to them under international law. Many are being tortured.


These prisoners are resisting the brutal Zionist occupation of Palestine in
all of its formations and it is essential that we support them.


Once again, please send your letters of support to: palprisoner@yahoo.com
or by fax  to: 1-928-752-8355


Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
PO Box 131352
Carlsbad, CA 92013
E-mail: info@al-awda.org
Fax: 1-802-609-9284


As Far As We Are Concerned
August 16, 2004


      "As far as I'm concerned they can strike for a day, a month, until
death," said Israeli Internal Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, in a
statement that would perhaps be comparable to Marie Antoinette's infamously
callous "let them eat cake" remark, if present day ideas on the universality
of human rights were not quite so far ahead of those prevalent in
pre-revolution France. Given, however, that we are living in the 21st
century, and given that there are a whole host of conventions and principles
that now govern how humans should be treated by fellow humans, Hanegbi's
statement, and the cruelty with which the Israeli Prisons Authority is
dealing with the ongoing hunger strike called by thousands of Palestinian
political prisoners in Israeli jails, makes Marie Antoinette seem positively
angelic in comparison.


      It is hard to know which is most lamentable: the deplorable conditions
in the prisons, the lack of due process afforded to the Palestinian
prisoners, or the dehumanizing "psychological warfare" with which the
strikers are being punished.


      The Israeli Prisons Authority has already instated an astonishingly
cruel - if creative - array of measures to counter the strike, the most
headline-grabbing among which was the setting up of barbecues outside the
prisoners' cells to grill meat in front of the starving prisoners. The IPA
has also halted family visits for strikers and removed what it deems all
"basic amenities" from their cells; additionally, it has prohibited the
strikers from access to radio, newspapers, television, and every means of
communication among themselves. Today, on the second day of the strike,
while security measures were stepped up throughout the extensive detention
and prison system in Israel, prison guards made their way through thousands
of festering cells confiscating cigarettes, candy, salt, medicines, notes
passed on from fellow prisoners, and - most typical of the paranoia so
characteristic of the Israeli security forces - all pens, pencils and paper.


      As Internal Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi has made clear, the last
thing on the mind of the Israeli Prison Authority as it copes with what it
calls this "disturbance" is the well-being of the strikers, or the demands
made by them; the decision, therefore, to "force feed" the prisoners if
needed has not been taken to ensure their well-being, but rather, to destroy
the objectives of the strike. Needless to add, not a moment's consideration
is being paid to these objectives, which are ludicrously modest when
compared to the response they have merited: the strikers are merely asking
for minor improvements in their lives through basic measures such as the end
to arbitrary strip searches, the improvement of sanitation facilities, the
installation of public telephones, and more frequent family visits. These
simple requests, however, have been interpreted by the likes of Israeli
Prison Service Commissioner Lieutenant General Yakov as "acts of terror"
that constitute a "prison takeover" and that must be squashed, no matter
what. Hence the barbecues outside the cells; the confiscated pens and
pencils; the removal of newspapers; the readied saline drips.


      However, none of these tactics of "psychological warfare" has deterred
the strikers yet; if anything, their determination and numbers have swollen
today, on the second day of the strike. As one striking prisoner remarked to
the press, "a person who gives up food to achieve his goals will not fall
because he doesn't get a newspaper or see television."


      Over 7,500 Palestinians are currently incarcerated as "political
prisoners" within Israel's draconian prison system. The vast majority of
these has never been tried in any court of law, has never been allowed
recourse to legal help or due process, and has never been formally charged
with a specific crime. If the illegality of their arrest were not bad
enough, the conditions in which these suffering thousands are forced to
live - often for years on end - are by any definition degrading and inhuman.
The Committee for the Families of Political Prisoners and Detainees in the
West Bank released yesterday a document that contained a woeful sampling of
common prisoner abuses, which included the following:


      - Arbitrary and indiscriminate beating of prisoners in their cells, in
prison courtyards and during transportation to and from prisons.
      - 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.
      - Humiliating strip searches of prisoners in full view of other
prisoners and guards each time they enter or exit their cells.
      - Subjecting prisoners to solitary confinement for excessive periods
of time, for months and even years.
      - 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
      - Confining children with adult prisoners and political prisoners with
      - Withholding or delaying medical treatment and the provision of
medication to sick detainees
      - Severely restricting the category of family members entitled to
visit prisoners thus denying visitation rights to other close family members
      - 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
      - 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
      - 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
      - Maintaining prisoners on near starvation diets that are insufficient
to sustain health.
      - Applying rules concerning items that prisoners may receive from
their families arbitrarily and inconsistently, on the whim of the guards,
with each visit.
      - Withdrawing studying privileges that in the past allowed prisoners
to continue their high school or university studies through correspondence


      Despite these egregious infringements upon their dignity and person,
the demands of the strikers remain, as noted above, stunningly simple. They
are not asking for freedom; they are not asking for compensation; they are
not asking for justice; they are asking, merely, for access to public
telephones, for visits from their families, and for clean toilets; for the
innocuous comforts that make us feel human, that afford us, even when we are
desperate, a semblance of dignity.


      As far as the state of Israel is concerned, the strikers can strike
"for a day, for a month, until death" for this dignity, but they will not
get it.





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