21 February 2012 | Samidoun
“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 world and international community look on,” Sheikh Khader Adnan wrote from the bed that Israeli soldiers chained him to in the Ramleh prison hospital on 11 February.
“It is time the international community and the UN support prisoners and force the State of Israel to respect international human rights and stop treating prisoners as if they were not humans.” (Ma’an News Agency, “Hunger-striking prisoner not backing down,” 11 February 2012)
As we mark the 65th day of an ongoing hunger strike by Sheikh Khader Adnan, whose struggle has inspired millions and infused the Palestinian national and solidarity movements with new energy, we must reflect on his call to the world and prepare a meaningful international strategy to support Palestinian prisoners’ struggle for freedom, justice, and equality.
Khader Adnan is fighting for rights that should be guaranteed to all prisoners, including due process, fair and equal treatment, and freedom from torture and other coercive methods. Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank face a military justice system that is entirely separate from that for Jewish Israelis, including settlers, who are instead part of the Israeli civil justice system; this military justice system for Palestinian political prisoners includes systematic and arbitrary detention without charge, the acceptance of torture, an almost complete lack of due process, vague charges, very low standards of evidence including the use of secret evidence, and widely disparate and harsher sentencing than the civil justice system.In Israel’s domestic criminal justice system exists a system of apartheid Palestinian citizens of Israel charged with political offenses are deemed ‘security prisoners’ and treated very differently from Jewish citizens. Palestinians are subject to unjust and unequal trials using secret evidence, gag orders, and evidence obtained through torture. (Please see this comprehensive analysis by Addameer for further details.)
As of January 2012, 4,417 Palestinian political prisoners are held in jails in Israel, including 170 children and 6 women. Just like Khader, 310 prisoners are held – without charge or trial – under administrative detention including over 20 lawmakers. In solidarity with them, and to broaden Khader’s struggle, we will actively oppose their imprisonment and any detentions without fair trials.
We demand the immediate release of all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. They have been targeted by an unfair and unequal legal system. Their imprisonment reflects Israel’s inherent system of injustice and racism. In addition, Israel must immediately halt its practices of:
- Administrative detention.
- Torture and ill-treatment of detainees.
- Solitary confinement and isolation.
- The use of military courts in the occupied Palestinian territory that illegally try civilians.
- Undermining a fair trial by using secret evidence against the accused.
- Arresting vulnerable groups, such as children, disabled, elderly and ill people.
On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Tuesday, April 17, we ask that all supporters of the Palestinian political prisoners’ movement bring Khader Adnan’s spirit of resistance to the doorsteps of his captors and would-be killers:
- Organize a protest in front of your local Israeli embassy, consulate or mission.
- Write letters to protest the violations of rights of Palestinian political prisoners and to call for an intervention to the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and your government or parliamentarians.
- Raise awareness on your University campus or in your community about Palestinian political prisoners
- Picket and protest G4S, Motorola, the Volvo Group, and the Israeli Medical Association – all providing services to Israel’s prisons – as well as other targets of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which challenges the Israeli policies of occupation, colonization and apartheid these repressive institutions maintain.
- Write letters to Palestinian prisoners expressing your support.
We must not allow Khader’s struggle to pass, like so many before his, as one more brave stand crushed by the armed might of the Israeli apartheid regime, unremarkable and inconsequential. Rather let this historic moment mark the beginning of a revitalized global movement for Palestinian prisoners, their rights, their families, and their struggle. Together, we can make it so.
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
Defence for Children International – Palestine Section
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Free Ameer Makhoul Campaign
Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat
Al-Awda New York, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Arab Organization for Human Rights
Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association
Canada Palestine Association
Coalition for a Free Palestine – South Africa
Existence is Resistance
Frantz Fanon Foundation, France
French Jewish Union for Peace
International Solidarity Movement – France
Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Labor for Palestine
Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
Leeds Palestinian Solidarity Campaign
National Lawyers Guild International Committee/Free Palestine Subcommittee
Netherlands Palestine Committee
New York City Labor Against the War
“Palestina nel cuore” Committee
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)
Palestinian Youth Movement-USA
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Students for Justice in Palestine National
Tower Hamlets Jenin Friendship Association
United 4 Palestine
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
US Palestinian Community Network
Vermonters for a Just Peace
Yousef Alsedeeq Institute for Prisoners’ Protection