Tuesday 2 May 2017

Palestinian Prisoners Mass Hunger Strike

At least 1600 Palestinian Prisoners have started a mass hunger strike. They are protesting their conditions in Israeli jails. They face torture, poor medical treatment and restrictions on contact with their families. Israeli practices of mass arbitrary arrests and detentions without trial are major attributing factors to the hunger strike. These consistently violate the human rights of the Palestinian people.

The hunger strike is a way of expressing freedom for the Palestinian prisoners. It is used by the prisoners to really show the free world what is happening to them. They stand against the actions of their occupier. It is an effective way for them to defeat the occupation. They feel that having empty stomachs is only a small means to an end. They want the international community to recognize that Palestinians are freedom seekers and are using any options available to them to do this.

"Our chains will be broken before we are" Marwan Barghouti.

Here in Abu Dis, there has been on going support for the Palestinian prisoners. The support has been demonstrated through protests, strikes and tents of solidarity in each city or town. However, this has resulted in many clashes between the locals and the Israeli military camp. We have experienced the effects of the daily tear gas bombs, the deafening sounds of shootings during the night and not to mention people screaming and running. There have also been several night raids which are essentially terrorizing the locals.  This instills fear within the community as each night is a unexpected series of events.

The soldiers have also been arresting children from Abu Dis Boys' School claiming they have been throwing stones. They asked teachers to empty the school within ten minutes and ordered that if any of the boys look at the soldiers in the eye they will kill them there and then.

We also had the chance to meet with a local who had been released from prison after four years, he was arrested at the age of 14. This young man has lost out on the most crucial years of his youth, where he would have developed many skills, finished his education, missing key family events such as weddings, births and even deaths. The damaging effects of prison are apparent in his reserved and timid behaviour.

It is so inspiring to see the community fighting for the rights of the prisoners, even amidst struggle and occupation the passion the Palestinians have is something each individual living in the free world should learn from.

Resistance is the key to freedom.

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