Addameer: Hunger Strikers – Only Immediate Intervention Will Save the Lives of Three Palestinian Hunger Strikers
Ramallah, 12 September 2012 – Addameer is deeply concerned that the lives of the three remaining Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prison are in immediate danger as their prolonged hunger strikes have led to a rapid deterioration in their health. Of utmost concern is the health of administrative detainees Samer al-Barq, today on his 114th day of renewed hunger strike following his previous 30-day hunger strike, and Hassan Safadi, today on his 84th day of renewed hunger strike following his previous 71-day hunger strike. The life of prisoner Ayman Sharawna, today on his 74th day of hunger strike, is also in immediate danger as his health continues to deteriorate rapidly.
Addameer lawyer Fares Ziad visited Ramleh prison medical clinic yesterday, 11 September, but was again unable to meet with Samer Al-Barq as he was too weak to get out of bed. Mr. Fares did manage to meet with fellow hunger strikers Hassan Safadi and Ayman Sharawna, who informed him of Samer’s condition. According to Hassan and Ayman, Samer’s health has deteriorated so severely that he is now unable to walk and is permanently confined to bed.
The health of Hassan Safadi continues to worsen and even drinking water causes swelling in his hands and feet. His health has deteriorated so critically that on 10 September he was unable to drink any water at all. Other health conditions that Hassan is suffering from include: low immunity; contractions of the heart muscles; liver problems; kidney stones; chronic pain in his kidneys; low pulse; low blood pressure; chronic pain in his joints. On 9 September, Hassan was transferred to Assaf Harofeh hospital due to further deterioration in his health; in particular his inability to see clearly and continuous dizziness compounded by his other health problems. The subsequent results revealed a weakening of the nerves in his eyes and also that his is suffering from anemia and a shortage of protein. Despite the urgency of his condition, Hassan’s administrative detention order was confirmed for a reduced period of four months on 9 September, now due to expire on 29 October.
Ayman Sharawna is also in critical condition as his health continues to deteriorate. He has lost approximately 80 percent of the vision in his right eye and has lost all feeling in his left leg. He has been informed that his kidneys are not functioning properly and he also has extreme pain in his back, which sometimes prevents him from standing up. As reported previously, the prison authorities have attempted to pressure him by saying that they will only give him pain medication for his back if he ends his strike. For the last 10 days, Ayman has been vomiting blood as well as the water he drinks. Other problems Ayman is suffering from include low immunity; low heart beat; low fat content; low blood pressure; low sugar levels.
Ayman has requested that his left leg be examined but was told by prison doctors that this needs approval by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS). He has also refused to be transferred to a civilian hospital as this usually involves being shackled by both arms and legs to the bed. Ayman is examined one day each week by prison doctors and is currently only able to drink one glass of water per day.
The pressure that all three hunger strikers have been subjected to by Israeli authorities continues to escalate. Israel not only deprives all three to a fair trial but also continues to severely mistreat them in the forms of physical brutality and psychological torture, as exemplified by the bargain to give Ayman Sharawna pain medication for his back only if he ends his hunger strike.
Despite the severe health conditions of all three hunger strikers they continue to be denied family visits and regular access to independent physicians and independent medical care. For the first time in over a month, a Physicians for Human Rights-Israel doctor was able to visit the hunger strikers on 10 September. The doctor “determined that all the hunger strikers must be immediately transferred to a public hospital for comprehensive medical query of their severe conditions” and that “the advanced physical damage recorded […] raises grave concern for maltreatment and neglect by the IPS doctors.” Addameer is outraged by the continued Israeli policy of allowing visits of independent doctor’s only after court orders.
Israel is violating these courageous hunger strikers’ most basic rights on a daily basis, even as they come to the brink of death. Addameer fears for the lives of all three hunger strikers and believes that only urgent intervention will be enough to save their lives. Addameer therefore calls on all those concerned with justice in Palestine to come together in support of all three hunger strikers.