Video: Palestinian hunger striker’s wife makes urgent plea
By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 18 February 2016
[NOTE: Ali Abunimah will be a keynote speaker at the NZ Conference on Palestine, Auckland Town Hall on Sunday 3 April followed by a NZ speaking tour. Ed]
In this video, Fayha Shalash makes an urgent appeal on behalf of her husband, who is on gravely ill and could die at any time after 85 days on hunger strike.
Muhammad al-Qiq, a 33-year-old father of two, has refused food since 25 November to protest his detention without charge or trial by Israel.
“Muhammad is fighting for his freedom,” Shalash says in the brief English-language video, “He is on hunger strike because he wants to be free.”
The video also shows al-Qiq crying out in pain from his hospital bed.
Al-Qiq is a journalist for the Saudi news agency al-Majd, and Shalash says he was arrested for exercising his profession.
“We appeal to free people in the world who can help us to put pressure on the Israeli government and let Muhammad free,” Shalash says.
Right to choose
On Wednesday, Amnesty International called on Israel to “urgently facilitate [al-Qiq’s] transfer to a Palestinian hospital in Ramallah.”
A day earlier, the Israeli high court rejected a petition by al-Qiq’s lawyers demanding such a transfer.
The Israeli high court ostensibly suspended al-Qiq’s administrative detention on 4 February, but he effectively remains a prisoner.
“According to lawyers and others who have visited him at HaEmek hospital in Afula, Israel, in recent days, he remains conscious, but his medical condition is extremely grave and his vital organs could fail at any time,” Amnesty states. “He continues to reject medical treatment as long as he is confined at HaEmek hospital.”
Amnesty says that the decisions of the Israeli courts on Muhammed al-Qiq, including the latest high court refusal to allow him to go where he chooses, fit a wider pattern of abuse.
“Israeli courts have failed, over many years, to provide effective legal recourse to the thousands of Palestinian administrative detainees held without charge or trial on the basis of secret ‘evidence’ withheld from them and their lawyers, under orders that can be renewed indefinitely,” Amnesty states.
“As an unconvicted detainee, al-Qiq has the right to treatment by doctors of his choice. Given his critical health situation, the Israeli authorities must respect his wishes and transfer him to the hospital that he has chosen without delay,” Amnesty adds.
Four more strikers
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club announced on Thursday that four more Palestinians were on open-ended hunger strikes against administrative detention.
In a statement to media, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club named three of the hunger strikers. They include Samer Issawi, who stopped eating five days ago in solidarity with al-Qiq.
Issawi and his sister, the lawyer Shireen Issawi, are both currently in administrative detention. They and their family have faced years of harassment by Israeli occupation authorities.
Rabie Jibril from Bethlehem began a hunger strike eight days ago against his administrative detention and to demand proper medical care.
Muhammad al-Mahr from the occupied West Bank city of Jenin has been on hunger strike for 46 days, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club.
Earlier this week, the Palestinian Authority’s Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs accused Israel of concealing al-Mahr’s hunger strike to keep him out of the public eye.
There are currently 650 Palestinians in Israeli administrative detention, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer.