Joseph Daher visited the solidarity tent for Khader Adnan during his recent trip to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He explains why Adnan’s protest is significant.
The Palestinian political prisoner Khader Adnan has now reached his 57th day of hunger strike (as of 12 February). Adnan, who is Islamic Jihad‘s spokesperson, has been detained without trial, and subjected to torture and humiliation by Israel since his imprisonment.
His strike is the longest one-man strike in history. The Palestinian resistant began his hunger strike on 18 December —a day after his arrest.
In a letter from Zeiv Hospital where he is receiving treatment, Adnan said he only drinks water and that he lost 42 kilograms. He wrote in his letter that he is defending his dignity and his people’s dignity.
He writes that the Israeli occupation has gone to extremes against the Palestinian people, especially prisoners. He also describes the way he has been beaten, humiliated and harassed by interrogators. He is determined that he will fight the policy of administrative detention to which he and hundreds of his fellow prisoners fall prey.
Here is the last passage of the letter:
“Here I am in a hospital bed surrounded with prison wardens, handcuffed, and my foot tied to the bed. The only thing I can do is offer my soul to God as I believe righteousness and justice will eventually triumph over tyranny and oppression. I hereby assert that I am confronting the occupiers not for my own sake as an individual, but for the sake of thousands of prisoners who are being deprived of their simplest human rights while the international community look on".
The international media have largely ignored the case of Khader Adnan. Most of the information highlighting Adnan’s situation was from Twitter and blogs.
Until today Khadr Adnan has been held under illegal administrative detention - in other words no charges have been brought against him. He is nevertheless still kept in detention, while he was beaten and tortured during his interrogation.
The Israeli authorities granted Adnan’s wife Randa a 30-minute family visit after more than 55 days of hunger strike and following the special session held by the Israeli court in Zeif hospital in Safed where Adna’s is treated, in which his wife witnessed her frail husband vomiting blood and declared that he could not pick up their daughter. He has no strength in his arms, she added.
A representative of the prisoner advocacy organization Addameer was also present during the family visit, despite the fact Adnan's attorney was barred entry. Addameer denounced the mistreatment of the Palestinian prisoner by Israeli authorities. They said: 'He is incredibly small and his clothes haven’t been changed and he hasn’t showered since being arrested. His nails haven’t been cut and there were blotch marks on his face and his teeth.'
In Gaza, solidarity hunger strikers built a protest tent in front the Red Crescent office, and in the West Bank other political prisoners joined Adnan in a strike.
Internationally, Samidoun (the Palestinian political prisoners’ solidarity network) issued a petition, and the case is becoming increasingly shared among activists for the Palestinian cause. Tommy McKearney, who spent 53 days on hunger strike as part of the 1980-81 Irish hunger strikes, sent a video message of support for Adnan Khader.
Addameer has chronicled the detention of Khader Adnan:
“Each day, Khader was subjected to two three-hour interrogation sessions. Throughout the interrogation sessions, his hands were tied behind his back on a chair with a crooked back, causing extreme pain to his back.
Khader notes that the interrogators would leave him sitting alone in the room for half an hour or more. Khader also suffered from additional ill-treatment. During the second week of interrogation, one interrogator pulled his beard so hard that it caused his hair to rip off. The same interrogator also took dirt from the bottom of his shoe and rubbed it on Khader’s mustache as a means of humiliation.
On Friday evening 30 December 2011, Khader was transferred to Ramleh prison hospital because of his deteriorating health from his hunger strike. He was placed in isolation in the hospital, where he was subject to cold conditions and cockroaches throughout his cell.”
There are currently 307 prisoners in administrative detention, without charge, in Israeli jails. In addition to this, according to prisoner advocacy groups, there are at least 4,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, many without being charged or facing trial.
Khader Adnan has already been imprisoned in the past by Israelis authorities and he was released after 3 weeks because he entered into a hunger strike to protest at his illegal detention. In Ashkelon prison in 2001 and 2002, he was an organizer in the prison, and he used to lead classes about Palestinian history.
The struggle of Khader Adnan represents the will of the Palestinian people to persist in confronting Israeli oppression. His hunger strike is showing his commitment to resistance in the only way he can right now, with his own body. He is actually fighting for life, life with justice and dignity.
Freedom for Khader Adnan and all the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli Jails – freedom for Palestine!
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