Hunger Strikers Continue their Battle of Empty Stomachs Despite Daily Humiliation and Threats of Force-Feeding

PRESS RELEASE
ADDAMEER Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

24 June 2014 Occupied Ramallah

One hundred Palestinian administrative detainees continue their 62nd day on hunger strike in protest of the policy of administrative detention, which has denied them their right to know their charges or stand trial.

Solidarity strikers stopped their strikes due to their deteriorating health conditions and the Israeli Prison Service’s (IPS) refusal to negotiate with the hunger strikers. Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association is deeply concerned about the deteriorating health conditions of the hunger strikers, especially in light of the degrading and inhumane treatment they are subjected to in Israeli prisons and hospitals.

“Difficult and Humiliating” Daily Suffering

Signed affidavits from several detainees has confirmed the continued policy of shackling the hunger strikers in hospital 24 hours a day with their legs tied to the bed continuously and one hand shackled to the bed for 12 hours (from 7PM to 7AM) every night. Prisoners have also described the horrific and degrading conditions they are subjected to in order to use the restroom or shower. The intentionally humiliating process has been described by a hunger striker in Barzilai Medical Center:

“When one of us needs to use the bathroom, he is taken to the bathroom (a few meters away from the bed) with his hands and legs shackled. When they reach the bathroom door, the guards unshackle his hands and keep the bathroom door open…If a detainee needs to use the bathroom while another is using it, he has to wait for the whole process to end… The process of showering is very complicated and humiliating. The detainee’s bed shackles are removed and then his hands and legs are shackled until he reaches the bathroom. The hand shackles are removed so he can take off his shirt and then they are shackled again. Then his leg shackles are removed so he can take off his pants and undergarments while his hands remain shackled… The door is kept open while the detainee showers, and there is no shower curtain. The guard allows the detainee to choose if he prefers his hands or legs to be shackled during the shower, but in both circumstances, the bathing process is very difficult and humiliating.”

The hunger strikers have also complained they are under video surveillance 24 hours a day, as well as the lack of privacy and the continuous threats and harassment the IPS subjects them to. Their degrading treatment violates basic principles of international human rights and standards, and Addameer maintains that the detainees should be released immediately without condition, or held in humane conditions as stipulated by international law throughout the duration of their hunger strike.

Health Conditions

The visited detainees have all lost a significant amount of weight, low blood pressure, low pulse, and kidney problems, which doctors have warned could possibly be permanent. Detainees are also experiencing extreme dizziness, causing them to lose consciousness even in the middle of conversations or
medical examinations.

One detainee who suffers from several pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, have intensified since the start of his hunger strike. Now he faces internal tissue damage, as well as numbness in his legs, severe shortage of breath and vitamin deficiencty. His life is in critical danger if he continues his hunger strike.

The detainees have been approached by the prison hospital staff to determine their wishes in case they lose consciousness. They have maintained that the doctors should act professionally and according to medical ethics standards.

The drastically deteriorating health conditions of the detainees coincides with the proposed force feeding law currently being brought before the Knesset that will allow for the force-feeding of Palestinian hunger strikers. If this bill, which will be voted on next week, is to pass, it will sanction Israeli torture of Palestinian hunger strikers in a systematic and widespread way.

Determination to Escalate the Strike

The administrative detainees, steadfast in their position to end the policy of administrative detention, have promised to escalate their strike if their treatment continues or worsens. This promise comes in the midst of the current arrest campaigns since the disappearance of three illegal settlers, in which 147 new administrative detention orders have been issued, raising the total number of people currently being held in administrative detention to 343, the highest number held since August 2009.

From their hospital beds the hunger strikers remain steadfast in their cause: “Administrative detention contradicts democratic and humane values, especially in the arbitrary way that Israel uses it, as there is no justification. There should be strong resistance by everyone in prison or outside against this policy because it greatly harms people, their dignity, family and children.”

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