(CHICAGO 06/12/2012) — As much of the world is tuned into the European Soccer Championship taking place in Central Europe this week, a Palestinian soccer star is near death after 85 days on a hunger strike protesting the three years Israeli occupation authorities have imprisoned him without charge or trial.
Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, a member of the Palestinian national football team, was taken prisoner three years ago when we arrived in the West Bank from Gaza to join his soccer team. Israeli occupation forces have held him since under the “Unlawful Combatants Law,” which allows for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to be imprisoned for an unlimited amount of time without charge or trial. Those detained under the statute have little or no legal protections, even less than those detained under administrative detention orders in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian prisoner rights group, Addameer.
A doctor from Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, who was allowed to visit the soccer star on June 6 – the first time Sarsak was examined by an independent doctor since his hunger strike began – said Sarsak has lost 33 percent of his body weight and is lapsing in and out of consciousness.
Sarsak is joined by hunger strikers Akram Rikhawi, 61 days; and Samer Al-Barq, 38, who has been incarcerated without charge or trial since July 11, 2010. All three men are perilously close to death and Israeli prison authorities are refusing to move them to the appropriate medical facilities.
Addameer issued an action alert on June 6, which stated:
”While administrative detention is allowed under international humanitarian law, it must be used only under exceptional circumstances as it infringes upon basic human rights, including the right to a fair trial. Indeed, the denial of a fair trial constitutes a ‘grave breach’ of the Fourth Geneva Convention, one of the most serious forms of war crimes. This form of arbitrary arrest also contravenes Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
As of April 30, 322 Palestinian political prisoners were being held in administrative detention, including a number of duly elected members of the Palestinian parliament. As of May 1, there were more than 4,600 political prisoners, including 220 children, according to Addameer and Defence for Children international-Palestine section.
International pressure from groups such as the American Muslims for Palestine played a role in forcing Israeli authorities to meet the demands of Khader Adnan, Hanan Shalabi, and more than 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners, who launched a hunger strike from April 17 to May 14. The prisoners were striking to protest Israel’s use of administrative detention, solitary confinement, night raids and the ban of family visits. Five others refused nourishment for more than 70 days. They all ended the strike after reaching agreement with prison authorities, who had pledged to stop renewing terms of administrative detention. However, authorities reneged on this promise and within days of the agreement had renewed the detention orders of at least 25 prisoners, according to published reports. Al-Barq reinitiated his hunger strike on May 21, after Israeli officials backed away from the agreement.
It is time for us to act again! Call the U.S. Department and demand officials pressure Israel to transfer the three prisoners to civilian hospitals immediately; and demand the State Department force Israel to immediately release all political prisoners.
Elizabeth Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs: 202.647.7209.
- State your name and the city and state where you reside. Be polite but firm.
- The fact that Israeli occupation forces deny due process to Palestinians is racist and Indicative of an apartheid state.
- Israeli officials’ punitive use of administrative detention and solitary confinement are egregious violations of international law.
- U.S. support of Israeli occupation in light of these facts hurts American interests abroad and threatens our national security.
- The US should demand that Israel uphold the basic values of life, liberty and dignity Inherent to all human beings.
- The US should demand that Israel release all Palestinian prisoners.
Once you call, please email AMP at email@example.com with Mahmoud Sarsak in the subject line. Please tell us when you called and what state you reside in.