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Day 29 of the Hunger Strike as we commemorate Year 69 of the Nakba

May 16, 2017, midnight

The Nakba continues until occupation ends and our support for our prisoners will continue until they are treated in compliance with international law. Dignity, justice and freedom will only be achieved when we can live in peace in a viable independent Palestinian state. Prof./Amb. Manuel Hassassian

Today, as over 1000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails enter into their 29th day of hunger strike, in protest against the violation of their basic rights, all Palestinians mourn their forced displacement in 1948 when Zionist terror groups engaged in the deliberate ethnic cleansing of Palestine of its indigenous Palestinian population, creating 750,000 refugees.

The hunger strike for Freedom and Dignity is a symbol of the wider Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination and the Palestinian people’s demand for their inalienable rights, under international law. The strike was launched on 17th April and more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners are participating in jails across Israel.

The health of the strikers is deteriorating fast. They are finding it difficult to stand or walk and some prisoners are fainting repeatedly while others are vomiting blood. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs is demanding that the hunger striking prisoners be transferred to civilian hospitals under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Instead they are receiving inadequate health monitoring by field hospitals, set up by the Israeli Prison Service and denied visits from independent doctors.

Worse still, it has come to light that these vulnerable prisoners are being subjected to humiliating and brutal treatment by prison authorities after political leaders Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Sa’adat were finally allowed legal visits yesterday from Prison Support and Human Rights Association, Addameer. According to Addameer’s attorney, Farah Bayadsi, prisoners’ personal possessions have been confiscated including supplies of salt, necessary to help limit the damage to their bodies during the hunger strike. Many are kept in solitary confinement while others are crammed ten to a cell with only one toilet and sink. They are subjected to arbitrary and abusive transfers and pre-dawn inspections, forcing them to vacate their cells when they find it difficult to stand or walk. Marwan Barghouti reported that he had faced humiliating strip searches while handcuffed and shackled.

There has been overwhelming international solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners since the hunger strike began. In South Africa, a one day hunger strike is being held with Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa and former political prisoners of the apartheid regime taking part. Other events will take place today in Cape Town and Johannesburg. There will be solidarity and Nakba events taking place elsewhere around the world, in Glasgow, Durham, London, Athens, Madrid, Istanbul, Los Angeles, Montreal, Sao Paolo, Donosti, Toulouse, Antwerp and Sydney, to name but a few

The Palestinian prisoners are using the only site of resistance left to them, their physical bodies. But we, who support their struggle should use all means available to us to show solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinian prisoners and make our governments put pressure on Israel to heed the prisoners’ demands for dignity and freedom. 

Whether 29 days of hunger strike or 69 years of dispossession since the Nakba, we Palestinians will never tire of resisting until our freedom and rights are restored.

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