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Palestinian Prisoner Khader Adnan & the Honduras Prison Fire

As the flames of the Honduran fire die down, it is not a phoenix that is arising from the ashes of Comayagua prison, but Israel.

The Associated Press reported on 17 February:

Israel's ambassador to Honduras, Eliau Lopes, said he planned to meet with [Honduran President] Lobo on Friday to present a proposal by an Israeli company to build four modern, safe, high-security prisons.

Lopes said the cost of the project is high but "it can be achieved with international aid."

"We are talking about facilities where no one will escape, where there won't be fires," he said.[1]

He should know what he is talking about – Khader Adnan and thousands more Palestinians certainly do. Now into his 64th day of a hunger strike, Adnan is in a critical condition in an Israeli hospital, following his arrest in a night raid on his family home by Israeli forces in the West Bank on 17 December. His case, and the issues it raises, are well-described here by UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk. [2]

Like 57% of the Honduran prisoners, Adnan and over three thousand more Palestinians are being held without charge, without trial, and without any evidence having been presented against them.

Like many of the other 43% of Honduran prisoners detained on trumped-up charges designed to criminalise social and political activism in the Americas, such as Zapatistas in Al Amate and Los LLanos prisons in Mexico, and the Cuban Five in the United States, thousands more Palestinians are unjustly held under extreme conditions in Israeli prisons, contrary to international law.

Of course, none of it would be possible without ‘international aid’ – not just the financial support of The United States and the European Union to militarily enforce Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, but also the ‘international aid’ of silence and inaction that guarantees Israeli - and Honduras, and Mexico, and the United States) impunity for their gross breaches of the Geneva Convention and/or other international law.

Like other hunger striking prisoners before him, such as Ghandi, the IRA prisoners, members of La Voz del Amate and La Voz de los Llanos, as well as the 12,000 US prisoners recently striking in protest at prison conditions, one of whom died this week [3], Khader Adnan has taken the only action he sees open to him, in an attempt to mobilize international public opinion to pressure Israel to end its indefensible practice of ‘administrative detention’. He has been joined by hundreds more Palestinians hunger striking in support. 10 Gazan hunger strikers have been encamped outside the International Red Cross in Gaza City for 16 days now.(see pics)

Meanwhile, it's business as usual while Israel maneuvers to export their tricks of the trade to Honduras. There will be no prizes for guessing who the financial backers will be – undoubtedly the same as those who ‘lent’ their air-force base for the Honduras coup in 2009. A base sited right next to Comayagua prison, but which provided flashlights and glowsticks, not firefighters, as the inferno raged. [4]

Lopes is correct - the Israelis certainly know how to make prisons secure, especially when others are paying the tab. Strip-searching all visitors, including eight year old girls trying to visit their fathers, is a sure deterrent. Forget prisoners’ rights, forget families’ rights – Israel has repeatedly shown that it can thumb its nose at the United Nations, and any other human rights organization, with the complicit silence of ‘international aid,’ and even the Secretary-General of the United Nations himself.

The Gaza strikers, half of whom are ex-prisoners, are incensed that their letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has yet to receive a reply, in contrast to Ban’s frequent calls for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit prior to Shalit’s liberation, and several visits with Shalit and his family following it.

Ban Ki-moon refused to meet any Palestinian prisoners’ families when he came to Gaza, yet he visited the Shalits several times,” they told me yesterday. “Why is the release of one Israeli soldier who was carrying a gun and prepared to use it worthy of his attention, yet the release of an unarmed man seized at home with his family then detained without charge or trial, is not?” they asked.

They pointed out that since the prisoner exchange which saw Gilad Shalit released along with over 1000 Palestinian prisoners, Israeli treatment of Palestinian prisoners has become far more aggressive. The United Nations and the Human Rights Council have done nothing to end the practice of administrative detention, or any of the other abuses Palestinian prisoners are being relentlessly subjected to.

As in Honduras and Mexico, where every few years independent human rights reports of the appalling conditions and practices in the penal system have been followed by absolutely no action, leading inevitably to the Comayagua outrage, so too has the formal international community failed to act against Israel’s blatant breaches and abuses of Palestinians’ civil and political rights, both as prisoners and as humans. Their patience is at an end.

Abu Hassan El Helow, one of the Gaza hunger strikers, told me, ““If Khader Adnan dies, who knows what will happen? It will reverberate throughout the Arab world.”

The Gaza hunger strikers are adamant that pressure from the international community is the only hope for Khader Adnan, and other Palestinian prisoners, as it was for Ghandi, the IRA prisoners, and others.

The people of the world are watching a person die, and they are doing nothing.” said Abu Hassan.

Over 350 died in Honduras – if Khader Adnan dies, Israel can be sure that the conflagration it has thus ignited guarantees he will not die alone.

Can the citizens of the world prevent another inferno?

# # # #

References:
[1] http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/L/LT_HONDURAS_PRISON_FIRE_AID?SITE=NHCON&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

[2] http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/795/

[3] http://www.care2.com/causes/california-prisoner-on-hunger-strike-dies.html

[4] http://www.shreveporttimes.com/usatoday/article/53117990

(I will be sending daily updates of the hunger strike from outside the International Red Cross in Gaza)

***************

ENDS

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