About 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners have refused food since April 17, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, they are calling for an end to ongoing collective punishment, administrative detention, continued denial of fair trial, and illegal transfer and deportation of detainees.
Since the occupation of 1967 roughly 20 per cent of Palestinian civilians, about 800,000, including children as young as 12, have been imprisoned by the Israeli apartheid state.
On Prisoners’ Day 2017, about 6,300 Palestinian political prisoners including 300 children and approximately 56 females as well as an estimated 500 Palestinians in administrative detention (including two children) are being held for an indefinite period without charge or trial.
Palestinian political prisoners held under military law have endured 50 years of physical and psychological ill-treatment, kicking, beating, forced stress positions, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, threats of sexual violence and threats of arrest of family members.
One Byron Bay Palestinian family divulged that a male relative had been arrested without charge and kept for days hanging upside down without relief for feeding, drinking or defecation.
In the 1980s, Israel practised force-feeding of hunger strikers in order to coerce them to end their hunger strikes without any legislation to regulate this measure and consequently several prisoners died when the feeding tubes entered their lungs instead of their stomachs.
Byron Friends of Palestine call on of our local federal MP, Justine Elliott, and the Australian government to demand that the Israeli government respects the will of hunger strikers who use their bodies as a legitimate means of protest which has been recognised by the World Medical Association Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikes as ‘often a form of protest by people who lack other ways of making their demands known’.
Gareth W R Smith, Palestine Liberation Centre, Byron Bay