Hunger striker Samer Al Issawi, 33 years old, has been on hunger strike for over 184 days now, protesting the injustice of his detention and that of all the other Palestinian political prisoners. Like other Palestinian political prisoners, Samer Al Issawi’s indefinite detention, without charges or trial, is grotesquely inhumane. It is an excuse to continue the persecution of the Palestinian people and those who dare to stand against Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine.
Al Issawi was previously sentenced to 30 years by Israel in 2002 and was among freed Palestinian prisoners who were released in October 2011 under a prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel after he had served 11 years. However, Israel reneged on its agreement — nothing new here — and rearrested him eight months later.
Having violated the terms of the swap deal, Israel was to rearrest Al Issawi under Mickey Mouse charges — as an administrative detainee. Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret evidence, without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.
According to Aldemeer, a Palestinian Human Rights watch dog group, there are 25 members of the Palestine National Council, including the Speaker of the Parliament, who are among 5,000 Palestinians held captive in Israeli dungeons. These include 6 women, 166 children and 320 “administrative detainees.”
Since the year of 2000, the Israeli occupation authority has issued over 20,000 administrative detention orders. Palestinians held prisoners often reject the authority of the Israeli military courts, as they view them as sham courts that are used by the Israeli occupation army and Israeli intelligence as a cover for illegal detention based on so-called “secret” files and lack of concrete evidence for any crimes committed.
Basic elements of jurisprudence require Israel to either charge or free Samer Issawi and other administrative detainees. Under a democratic system of government you are innocent until you are proven guilty, and not guilty till you are proven innocent. If you are a Palestinian living under Israeli occupation, however, forget about the rules of law. It does not apply to you.
Last December, Israeli guards assaulted Al Issawi during a court hearing for the whole world to see. When he tried to greet his family in a Jerusalem court, the prisoner’s hands and feet were cuffed. Why this spiteful brutality in open court?
Al Issawi, who was assigned to Israel’s Ramleh prison, was briefly hospitalized when his heart dropped to 36 beats per minute. That did not stop the guards and Israeli forces from assaulting Al Issawi again as he tried to address the media. The guards dragged him by his hands and feet to the court’s detention room.
To add insult to injury, Israeli forces raided Al Issawi’s home town north of Jerusalem on the same day he was beaten in court and arrested his sister, Shireen, without any charges. Her putative crime? Defending her brother’s right to a fair trial and freedom. Shireen, who is a qualified attorney, is now telling the world to “stand by my brother before it’s too late!”
“HELP MY BROTHER!”