In solidarity with Samer al-Issawi

(CHICAGO 01/24/2013) – Palestinian political prisoner Samer Al-Issawi is near death after undergoing a hunger strike lasting more than 180 days. Al-Issawi, who has been detained without charge since July 2, 2012, is protesting not only his own detention but the Israeli Prison System’s illegal use of administrative detention, torture, isolation, and other tactics that deprive Palestinian prisoners of their basic rights and which violate international law.
Al-Issawi had spent more than 10 years in Israeli prisons and was released in the prisoner swap in October 2011 before he was rearrested in July. Since he began his hunger strike in August, Israeli authorities have taken retribution on Al-Issawi’s family, arresting this sister Shireen; demolishing his brother Ra’afat’s home; and cutting off the water supply to Samer’s home, among other things.
On Jan. 21, Al-Issawi was admitted to the hospital with a heart rate of less than 34 beats per minute. Doctors say his heart could stop at any time. He is lapsing in and out of a coma state; is in great pain and is losing his eyesight.
Others are also waging hunger strikes as part of a uniform effort to bring international attention to Israel’s continued human rights abuses and violations of international law.
Jafar Azzidine, 41; Tarek Qa’adan, 40; and Yousef Yassin, 29, all from Jenin, are also waging hunger strikes. The four men, including Al-Issawi, put out the following statement through the prisoner rights group Addameer:
“Our open hunger strike  is to protest the Intelligence and their policies, our goal is not just to gain our individual freedom but to end the practice of administrative detention, the pointed sword on the neck of the Palestinians. This is a battle in the fight for freedom and dignity despite all the continuing pain and torments that impair us, and despite all the pressure that we endure and is practiced against us by the Israeli Prison Service and Shabak (secret police) to break our will from our steadfastness….”
Administrative detention allows the Israeli military to hold Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial. Detention periods can also be extended indefinitely. Currently, 178 Palestinians are being held in administrative detention, a sharp rise since Israel’s attacks on Gaza in November, according to Addameer. As of Dec. 31, 2012, the Israeli military was holding 4,656 Palestinian political prisoners. Of these, 178 are being held in administrative detention without charge or trial; 177 are children; 11 are women and 13 belong to the duly elected Palestinian Legislative Council.
Call Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones to demand the United States pressure Israel into releasing Al-Issawi and all Palestinian political prisoners.
Remain polite, professional but firm. Tell Assistant Secretary Jones that US support for Israel’s policies is anathema to American values of due process, liberty and justice.

  • Administrative detention violates international law.
  • Israel Prison System policies also contravene international law and deprive Palestinian prisoners of their rights to due process, access to education, health care and their families.
  • Samer Al-Issawi’s death will be a blight on America’s reputation as the world see us as an unconditional supporter of Israel and its policies.
  • All Palestinian political prisoners must be released.
  • Those held in administrative detention are being denied due process of charge and trial.
  • America’s unconditional support for Israel hurts us in the global arena and weakens our national security.

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