Demonstrations in Palestine, around the world say ‘Free Khader Adnan!’
Feb 22, 2012
Update: On Feb. 21 the Guardian (Britain) reported that
Adnan had agreed to end his hunger strike in exchange for his release from
detention on April 17.
Adnan, like hundreds of other Palestinians, was arrested under a military
order that Israel has named “administrative detention.” It allows
prisoners to be held without charge or trial for periods of up to six months,
in spells that can be renewed indefinitely!
Sahar Francis is a lawyer with Addameer, a prisoner rights group based in
the West Bank city of Ramallah, and a member of Adnan’s legal team. She
visited the hunger striker in Ziv hospital in Safad, Israel, on Feb. 17. She
described her client, who remains shackled to his hospital bed, as
“mentally perfect, but physically very weak.” (Al-Jazeera, Feb.
After examining Adnan on Jan. 29, the organization Physicians for Human
Rights-Israel (PHR-I) said: “His clothes were dirty. His finger(nails)
were not trimmed for a long time, and he started to lose his hair. ... His body
odor was unpleasant, and (he) lost a third of his weight.” The group said
he “suffers from chest pains, and feels he has days, maybe hours, to
live.” The Jan. 29 examination was the only medical contact Adnan has had
since he was arrested. (Philadelphia Independent Media Center, Feb. 10)
Amidst widespread demonstrations and protests, Amnesty International and
Human Rights Watch have both called on the Israeli authorities either to
release Adnan or immediately charge him with criminal offences and have him
tried. The U.S., which likes to tout Israel as “the only democracy in the
Middle East,” has been silent. Recently Congress passed, and President
Obama signed, a bill giving the U.S. military similar powers of detention, even
for U.S. citizens.
With the military’s case against prisoners kept secret from both the
defendant and legal teams, defending clients under administrative detention is
incredibly difficult, if not impossible.
Palestinian captives inside Israeli prisons frequently refer to the 10
republican prisoners in Northern Ireland, led by 27-year-old Provisional Irish
Republican Army member Bobby Sands, all of whom died after long hunger strikes
in 1981. Sands, who was elected to the British Parliament during his fast, died
after 66 days of refusing to eat. The revolutionary intransigence of these
brave men and others, and other organised actions, were believed to have
improved prisoners’ conditions and made gains for their nationalist
Since the rise of a Palestinian nationalist movement in the late 1960s and
1970s to combat Israeli occupation, hunger striking has been a common tactic
among Palestinian prisoners that, according to Addameer’s Francis, has
frequently succeeded in improving the conditions of their incarceration.
Stories such as Sands’, says Abu Maria, another Palestinian activist
who has suffered arrest and abuse at the hands of the Israelis, “made us
think that hunger strike is the only way a prisoner can resist.”
(Al-Jazeera, Feb. 17) n