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Free the Children - Protest in Solidarity with Palestinian Child Prisoners and the Hunger Strikers


inminds
28 September 2012

Saturday 15th September saw two events take place in London in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli dungeons. Firstly a delegation visited the British Red Cross to demand, as part of the International Red Cross movement, it uphold its responsibilities to Palestinian prisoners and to act to save the lives of hunger strikers Samer al-Barq, Hassan Safadi and Ayman Sharawna. Later a protest was held outside the British Foreign Office calling on the government to sanction Israel to release all the Palestinian child prisoners and returned them to their families.

Both events were organised by the Palestinian Prisoners Campaign Group which was launched as part of this years Al Quds Day jointly by Innovative Minds and the Islamic Human Rights Commission.



Protesting in Parliament Street near the Foreign Office







Delegation to British Red Cross on behalf of Palestinian hunger strikers


A delegation from the Palestinian Prisoners Campaign Group visited the headquarters of the British Red Cross in Moorgate to deliver a letter urging the British Red Cross, as as part of the International Red Cross movement, to immediately take steps to ensure the ICRC fulfill its responsibilities as a guardian of international humanitarian law and act to protect the lives of the Palestinian hunger strikers Samer al-Barq, Hassan Safadi and Ayman Sharawna.




Samer Al-Barq had been on hunger strike a total of 147 days, Hassan Safadi was on his 158th day and Ayman Sharawna on his 77 day of hunger strike. All three have been imprisoned under Israel's infamous 'administrative detention' which means they have not been charged with anything and there is no trail and yet they have been locked up indefinitely on a rolling 6 month prison sentence. Hassan Safadi and Samer al-Barq are both on renewed hunger strikes after israel broke its deal to release them. the health of all 3 hunger strikers is rapidly deteriorating, human rights group Addameer says only an immediate intervention now will save their lives.

Samer Al-Barq is close to death and is permanently confined to bed. Hassan Safadi is loosing his vision and suffers constant dizziness, he has low blood pressure with contractions of the heart muscles. Amnesty has reported that even at the Medical Centre of the Israel Prison Service Samer Al-Barq and Hassan Safadi are being repeatedly beaten and abused. Recently the guards smashed Hassan's head on the iron doors of the cell repeatedly until he was unconscious on the floor, they then dragged him through the corridor to a cell without a mattress.



Ayman Sharawna was released as part of the prisoner exchange deal in October 2011, only to be re-arrested on 31 January 2012. No charges have been filed against him. Israeli doctors are trying to pressure Ayman Sharawna by withholding his needed injections until he agrees to end his hunger strike. He has lost 80% of vision in his right eye and has lost all feeling in his left leg. for the past 10 days Ayman Sharawna has been vomiting blood.



'Free Palestinian Hunger Strikers' leaflet

The dire situation in Etzion prison was also raised by the delegation to the Red Cross. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society has reported that different skin diseases are spreading among the Palestinian prisoners in Etzion jail because the jail administration forces any prisoner entering its premises to hand over the clothes he wears and put on instead unclean and used clothes. The jailers also prevent the prisoners from washing these used clothes properly or drying them in the sun, so they have to wear them damp and wet. The blankets used by the prisoners in this jail are also very dirty and one of the reasons for skin diseases.



The letter delivered to the Red Cross, reproduced below, broadly follows the campaign letter produced by the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.


Mr David Peppiatt
Director of International,
British Red Cross,
44 Moorfields,
London EC2Y 9AL

Dear Mr David Peppiatt,

We write today with deep concern for the situation of Palestinian political prisoners, and in particular those on hunger strike, in isolation and suffering from medical neglect. After the achievements of the April-May 2012 hunger strike of thousands of Palestinian prisoners, Israel continues to violate the agreements that ended the hunger strikes. Today, three Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike are in critical condition. Hassan Safadi, Samer al-Barq, and Ayman Sharawna, have been striking for 158, 147 and 77 days respectively.

These hunger strikes are being taken up in protest of clear violations of the Israeli agreement with the hunger strikers providing for the non-renewal of administrative detention for prisoners participating in the strike, and the near-immediate re-arrest and arbitrary detention of prisoners released in the October 2011 prisoner exchange.

Addameer, Physicians for Human Rights and al-Haq have reported based on medical evidence that the lives of these three men are in serious danger, while they remain shackled to their hospital beds.

As a guardian of international humanitarian law, the ICRC is responsible "...to take cognizance of any complaints based on alleged breaches of that law" (Article 5.2c of the Statutes of International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement). In the case of Palestinian prisoners, it is urgent that the ICRC meets this responsibility and takes action to address the situation faced by Palestinian prisoners.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society has also reported that different skin diseases are spreading among the Palestinian prisoners in Etzion jail because the jail administration forces any prisoner entering its premises to hand over the clothes he wear and put on instead unclean and used clothes. The jailers also prevent the prisoners from washing these used clothes properly or drying them in the sun, so they have to wear them damp and wet. The blankets used by the prisoners in this jail are also very dirty and one of the reasons for skin diseases.

As part of the International Red Cross (ICRC) we call upon the British Red Cross to immediately take steps to ensure the ICRC fulfill the following measures:

• To immediately demand the end to the extensive use of arbitrary administrative detention against Palestinian prisoners;

• To take effective and public action to meet the critical demands of the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, to respect the prisoners' dignity and human rights;

• To take effective and public action against Israel's widespread use of torture against Palestinian prisoners and detainees;

• To immediately demand that sick and injured prisoners are provided with adequate and appropriate medical treatment;

• To pressure Israel to allow unobstructed family visits by Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, without glass, shackles or other obstructions;

• To pressure Israel to respect prisoners' rights to unrestricted lawyers' visits;

• To urgently increase the frequency of visits by the ICRC to Israeli prisons;

• To insist that visits by ICRC staff to Israeli prisons also include the provision of urgently needed items such as clothes, underwear, shoes, sanitary products, blankets and educational materials;

• To coordinate this work with the needs and demands of the Palestinian public, including prisoners' families and human rights organizations.

These three men's lives and health are at stake in their courageous effort to defend their dignity and human rights within a system that is rife with physical and psychological torture, abuse, and deprivation. It is urgent that the ICRC not only take note of these events, but also take action to protect Palestinian prisoners and secure their rights.



Letter delivered to the Red Cross






Free the children - Protest outside Foreign Office on behalf of Palestinian Child Prisoners

Later in the day a protest was held outside the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to demand the FCO act on the findings of the report by the delegation of British lawyers on the treatment of Palestinian children under Israeli military law which the FCO itself commissioned.

The report published in June 2012, even with its narrow remit, concluded that Israel is in breach of articles 2, 3, 37(b), 37(c), and 37(d) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The manner of arrest and detention of children amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment which is prohibited in article 37(a) of the UNCRC, and its routine holding of children in solitary confinement for substantial periods of time amounts to torture.

So far the FCO has ignored the report and continues to do business with Israel as normal.






Israel has detained over 8,000 children since 2000, and currently holds 220 Palestinian children in its dungeons. the children are shackled and left in solitary confinement. Tortue is a routine part of interrogation, and there is widespread evidence of sexual assaults by interrogators on shackled children. They are threatened with rape or sodomy with an object in order to coerce false confessions and coerce them in to becoming informants on their families. The most common charge children are accused of is throwing stones, a charge which is punishable by 20 years in prison.









With a fantastic turnout the protest was a great success. Protesters carried placards which read "Israel tortures children" and "Everyday 2 children prosecuted in Israeli military court.. Shackled, Solitary Confinement, Torture, Sexual Assault.. Penalty for throwing a stone - up to 20 years in prison". Placards were also carried in support of the hunger strikers, demanding their freedom. Two sided leaflets were handed out with one side on Palestinian child prisoners and the other on the hunger strikers. Londoners travelling along the busy road linking Parliament and Trafalgar Square were shocked to learn about Israel's imprisonment and abuse of Palestinian children.













Video courtesy Mr Alex Seymour



'Free The Children'




A letter addressed to William Hague was presented to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office urging the the government to send a clear message to Israel that the imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children is unacceptable by voting against the ACAA protocol of the European Union/Israel Association Agreement in the upcoming vote on 18th September 2012. The committee of International Trade (INTA) of the European Parliament will vote on the ACAA or ‘the protocol on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products’, which is a protocol attached to the European Union/Israel Association Agreement. The EU/Israel Association Agreement forms the legal basis for trade relations between the EU and Israel, which gives Israel preferential treatment with the EU. Article 2 clearly states that the agreement should be based on ‘respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this agreement’. The letter urged the government to prevent the protocol from passing, anything less would signal complicity.


Rt. Hon. William Hague
Foreign & Commonwealth Office,
King Charles Street,
London,
SW1A 2AH

Dear Mr. Hague,

Re: Palestinian child prisoners held in Israeli jails

We are deeply concerned over the imprisonment of Palestinian children by Israeli military authorities.

Israel currently holds 220 Palestinian children in its dungeons. The delegation of British lawyers investigation on the treatment of Palestinian children under Israeli military law, which the FCO commissioned, published a report in June 2012 which concludes that Israel is in breach of articles 2, 3, 37(b), 37(c), and 37(d) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The manner of arrest and detention of children amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment which is prohibited in article 37(a) of the UNCRC, and its routine holding of children in solitary confinement for substantial periods of time amounts to torture.

Human right groups have reported that there is widespread evidence of increasing sexual assaults by interrogators on Palestinian children who are shackled during interrogation. They are threatened with rape or sodomy with an object in order to force false confessions and coerce them in to becoming informants on their families.

This is inhumane and disgraceful. Why have you not demanded the release of all Palestinian child prisoners? The government has a moral duty to sanction Israel to release all the children being held in Israeli jails.

Next week, on 18 September 2012, the committee of International Trade (INTA) of the European Parliament will vote on the ACAA or ‘the protocol on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products’, which is a protocol attached to the European Union/Israel Association Agreement. The EU/Israel Association Agreement forms the legal basis for trade relations between the EU and Israel, which gives Israel preferential treatment with the EU. Article 2 clearly states that the agreement should be based on ‘respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this agreement’. We urge the government to prevent the protocol from passing, anything less would signal complicity. A clear message needs to be sent to Israel that the imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children is unacceptable and whilst Israel continues to breach international human rights laws it will be treated as a pariah state.

We look forward to hearing back from you regarding this urgent matter,




Delivering the letter to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office



The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is in King Charles Street which with its security checkpoints at each end is pretty deserted. Thats why the main protest was on the busy Parliament Street.



Outside the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Latest Developments

The Palestinian Prisoners Club spokeswoman Amani Sarahna announced on 23th September that "Hassan Safadi and Samer Barq have suspended their hunger strikes. Safadi will be released on October 29, at the end of his detention period. Barq will be held until the Israelis and Egyptian reach an agreement (on his transfer). If they don’t reach a deal, he will resume his hunger strike." Ayman Sharawna and Samer al-Issawi remain on hunger strike.

Remaining hunger striker held in limbo while his health continues to deteriorate

Src: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=520

Ramallah, 26 September 2012—Addameer and Al-Haq are deeply concerned for the life of the remaining Palestinian hunger striker in Israeli prison, Ayman Sharawna, who is now on his 88th day of hunger strike. Ayman was visited on 24 September by Addameer lawyer Fares Ziad at Ramleh prison medical center, who reported that there has been a serious deterioration in his health.

In response to the refusal of the Israeli authorities to release him and to further escalate his strike, Ayman decided to stop drinking water for five days from 16-20 September, during which time he lost seven kilograms in weight. The deterioration in his health includes loss of sight in his left eye and the loss of all feeling in his right leg.

As previously reported, Ayman has already lost 80 percent of his vision in his right eye, which means that Ayman has become almost totally blind. He continues to suffer from severe kidney problems and has begun to suffer from partial memory loss. Ayman also continues to suffer from pain in his back, which remains untreated as the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has said it will only give him pain relieving medication if he ends his strike.

According to Adv. Ziad, Ayman did not want to start drinking water again but reluctantly did so out of fear for the deterioration in his health, particularly with his loss of eyesight and feeling in his legs. If he is not released, Ayman has declared that he will once again refuse water starting this Friday, 28September. Ayman was re-arrested in January after being released in the prisoner exchange deal in October 2011. He is currently held without charge and the military committee has not yet reached a decision regarding whether or not Ayman will be returned to his prior sentence.

Adv. Ziad also visited Hassan Safadi who suspended his hunger strike on 21 September after 93 days of renewed hunger strike. Following an appeal on 20 September against his continued administrative detention by Israel, the military judge ruled that his current administrative detention order, which is due to expire on October 29, would not be renewed after that date.

Adv. Ziad was unable to meet Samer al-Barq, who reportedly also suspended his historic 123- day renewed hunger strike on 21 September, following negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Egypt, which resulted in Egypt agreeing to accept Samer if he is released by Israel. To date Israel has not made any announcements regarding his transfer.

Addameer and Al-Haq salute the courageous hunger strikes of Hassan and Samer and hope for a just resolution to Ayman’s case as soon as possible. Nevertheless, while the potential release of Samer from administrative detention should be welcomed, Addameer and Al-Haq are obligated to highlight their concerns with aspects of the proposed agreement that are fundamentally at odds with international law. Samer’s proposed release is conditional on his deportation to Egypt.

There are numerous examples of similar agreements made by Israel regarding the forced transfer or deportation of Palestinian political prisoners or “wanted” persons. Most recently, former hunger striker and administrative detainee Hana Shalabi was forcibly transferred to the Gaza Strip for a period of three years. In the October 2011 prisoner exchange deal, 18 West Bank prisoners, including those from East Jerusalem, were also forcibly transferred to the Gaza Strip for a period of three years while an additional 146 were forcibly relocated there on a permanent basis as conditions of their release. An additional 41 prisoners were deported outside of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

The terms of these expulsions violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits forcible transfers and deportations of protected persons, a proscription that is part of customary international humanitarian law. Unlawful deportation or transfer also constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention (GC IV) and therefore qualifies as one of the most serious war crimes. Given the stark asymmetry in power, resulting from the belligerent occupation, between the Palestinian and Israeli parties involved, neither the potential “consent” of the prisoner, in this case Samer Al-Barq, nor the fact that these deals have been negotiated by a Palestinian authority can serve as justification for the deportation as this contravenes the spirit of articles 7, 8 and 47 of the GC IV concerning the inviolability of the protections afforded by the Convention.

Addameer and Al-Haq reiterate that forcible transfer and conditional release is not an alternative to Israel ending its practice of administrative detention. It is imperative to demand a permanent resolution to Israel’s practice of arbitrary detention, in compliance with international humanitarian law. Addameer and Al-Haq call on the international community to intervene and demand that Israel immediately comply with its legal obligations, cease its policy of administrative detention and provide adequate and trusted healthcare for all hunger striking prisoners.

















Next Protest - G4S on 12th October


The next protest will be on Friday 12th October 3-5pm outside the London head office of the security firm G4S:

Southside
105 Victoria Street
London
SW1E 6QT

The British-Danish security firm G4S is providing security systems to help Israel secure prisons and interrogation centres where Palestinian children are being caged and tortured. These include Ofer prison in the occupied territory where G4S provides the perimeter defense system and the central command control room for the entire facility, and the notorious Al Jalame interrogation centre in northern Israel with its Cell 36 where Defence for Children International reported children are locked in small filthy cells in solitary confinement, some for 65 days, with their only escape being the interrogation room where they are shackled by their hands and feet to a chair whilst being abused, sometimes for hours. G4S provides the security system that keep this torture den operational.

Join us for this important protest, more details to follow..









 




International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network www.ijsn.net










Source: inminds.com


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