Cairo – June 7th, 2012
ANHRI congratulates all the free world, especially the heroic Palestinian people at home and abroad, for the release of the heroic Palestinian prisoner Thaer Halahla who was on a legendary hunger strike for 77 consecutive days.
The Israeli occupation authorities released Halahla, 34 years old resident of Kharas town, north of al-Khalil city, on June 5th. He was persistent to clintch his right to freedom as he was facing death in his record hunger strike in protest against his ongoing detention administratively without a charge or trial for the eigth time since June 27th, 2010. In total, he spent nearly seven years in administrative detention based on the so-called “secret file”.
Halahla began his hunger strike on February 28th, 2012 and suspended it on May 14th following the agreement that ended the strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. More than 1600 Palestinian prisoner participated in that strike, an estimated third of the number of the Palestinian prisoners in the jails of the Israeli occupation. The prisoners went through a complete hunger strike for almost a month starting from April 17th, in protest against illegal and arbitrary detention and the bad prison conditions and in demand of their basic rights guaranteed by international conventions and treaties. These rights include ending the policy of solitary confinement, allowing the families of the Gaza prisoners to visit them, providing health care for sick prisoners, ensuring the prisoners’ right to communicate with the outside world through television and newspapers, and allowing them to continue their primary, secondary, and tertiary education.
On May 14th, coniciding with the anniverswary of the Nakba, a written agreement sponsored by Egypt was officially declared between the Leadership of Palestinian Prisoners and the Israeli Prison Service and Intelligence. Under this agreement, the prisoners’ hunger strike ends in return for Israel’s commitment to fulfil their demands. One of most important terms of the agreement was to release Halahla and Bilal Diab, who was als on a hunger strike, once the extension period of their administrative detention ends. Diab is due to be released on August 11th, 2012.
Halahla is the second Palestinian prisoner to achieve his demand by hunger strike. Khader Adnan was the first as he went on a hunger strike for 68 days and was released once his administrative detention ended. These incidents assert the success of physical hunger and thirst in breaking the Israeli intransigence against the Palestinian prisoners.
“We are happy that the Palestinian prisoners have won the battlle of ‘hollow stomacks’, and considers it a victory for human rights against chains and jailers. However, we are outraged that the occupation authorities detained 26 Palestinians without charge in the same night of Halhala’s release,” said ANHRI. “We stress on our stance rejecting the policy of administrative detention pursued by the occupation authorities. It violates the internationally recognized right to a free trial which has to be guaranteed for all detainees even during emergencies. We reiterate our call for the release of administratively detained Palestinians.”
ANHRI calls on all stakeholders to take responsibility in the cause of Palestinian prisoners immediately and to pressure for the end of the Israeli violations that treat prisoners as hostages to weaken the popular steadfastness of the Palestinian claim for their rights and the end of the occupation. ANHRI also calls on holding Israel accountable for its grave systematic violations against the Palestinian prisoners and for the severe deterioration of conditions in the occupation prisons in contravention of all international laws and norms.
The Palestinian prisoners have the right to resort to all forms of peaceful and legitimate struggle to defend their dignity and rights, including individual and collective hunger strikes. ANHRI is following with great concern the news on the deteriorating health of the prisoners who are cointinuing in their hunger strike. They are Mahmoud al-Sarsak, on hunger strike for 80 days, Akram Rikhawy, 56 days, and Samer al-Barq, 17 days. ANHRI calls for the provision of specialized medical care for them and holds the occupation authorities fully responsible for any further deterioration of their health during the battle they are waging with their bodies in affirmation that a man’s life is not sustained only by food.
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