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Irish Hunger Striker’s Words Ring True for Samer Al Essawi

Irish Hunger Striker Bobby Sand’s Words Ring True for Samer Al Essawi
UFree Network | Media Centre
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Palestinian Political Prisoner and Hunger striker, Samer Al Essawi was wheeled into the Israeli magistrate court yesterday to hear the verdict on his appeal. Having now been on hunger strike for more than 183 days, Samer’s body is now starting to break down, he is no longer able to walk on his own. In short order it was soon announced by the Israeli court that his appeal was denied. The next step is to go before the Israeli Military court on 5th February at which time a decision will be made to release him, or keep him imprisoned. Either way the next few weeks are dangerous and critical for Samer and his family.

Samer Al Essawi was originally arrested during the 2nd Intifada and was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Then, in 2012, during the Gilad Shalit Swap Deal between Palestinian political factions and Israel, Samer was freed along with hundreds of his fellow political prisoners. However, Israel appears to now be reneging on this deal and has continued a random policy of re-arresting some of those released prisoners, one of whom is Samer, and placing them on Administrative Detention.

B'Tselem reports that “at the end of November 2012, some 4,430 Palestinian security detainees and prisoners were held in Israeli prisons.” Additionally, 990 of them are being held until their legal proceedings are completed and another 178 are simply being held indefinitely without charge or trial e.g. Administrative Detention. Therefore, prisoners like Samer have very little they can use as leverage against the illegal and barbaric conditions that are forced upon them, but they have found a way to fight back.

Palestinian prisoners are now waging war with only their bodies and their will to resist as weapons. And following in the footsteps of Irish Political prisoners, they are now using the tactic of Hunger strike against their enemy.

UFree Network recently organised a Delegation from Palestine 48 consisting of the Yousef Al Sedeeq Institute for Prisoners Protection and the Meezan Centre for Human rights. The Palestine 48 Delegation was facilitated by the Irish Friends of Palestine and visited the two cities of Derry and Belfast in the North of Ireland. Both of these cities are steeped in the history of occupation, struggle.

During the visit members of the Delegation held many important meetings with people who were involved in both of the recent Hunger strikes in Ireland. They met with Pat Sheehan and Raymond McCartney, both men took part in Irish hunger strikes. Pat Sheehan would have been the next do die had the 1981 Hunger strike continued. He was very near death. Yet today both men are now elected MLA’s and received the Palestine 48 Delegation at Stormont Government building which once represented a Bastion of British Occupation. Inside this building former Irish political prisoners met with the Delegation. Meetings were also held with Jim Gibney to discuss the strategy involved in community organising locally and internationally during the Irish Hunger strike. The Palestine 48 Delegation hopes to learn ways of increasing international awareness and support for their own hunger strike taking place back home.

During the visit to Ireland, many former Irish political prisoners and former hunger strikers sent their messages of solidarity and support to Samer and to the others imprisoned. The many similarities between Ireland and Palestine were not lost on members of the Delegation and during their time in Ireland they visited many sites of remembrance for Irish Martyrs and victims of the struggle. However it was during a visit to the grave of Bobby Sands who led the 1981 hunger strike that the delegation felt compelled to leave a mark of respect to a fallen Irish comrade who died on Hunger strike.

A former prisoner and managing director of Al Sedeeq Institute for Prisoners Protection then placed a Palestinian flag scarf alongside Bobby’s grave. Soon all thoughts turned to Samer and his plight for freedom and a message of support was then sent to Samer from Ireland. He is now suffering from multiple health problems including vertigo, intense abdominal pains, blurred and double vision and joint pain. His organs are beginning to reach the stage where they will start to shut down, one by one.

With only his body and will as a weapon, Samer has said he will continue the hunger strike until his freedom. So the question to Israel from people of conscience around the world remains the same, will his freedom come when he is released to return home, or will his freedom come when he is released in death. Israel should remember that the Irish Hunger strike was a turning point that saw worldwide support the Irish Political prisoners. And should Samer also be forced to die in prison, so too will the tide turn against Israel.

In the immortal words of Bobby Sands:

There’s an inner thing in every man,Do you know this thing my friend?It has withstood the blows of a million years,And will do so to the end.
It lies in the hearts of heroes dead,It screams in tyrants’ eyes,It has reached the peak of mountains high,It comes searing across the skies.
It lights the dark of this prison cell,It thunders forth its might,It is ‘the undauntable thought’, my friend,That thought that says ‘I’m right!’

FREE SAMER AL ISSAWI NOW

UFree Network | Media Centre
media@ufree-p.net
http://www.ufreenetwork.eu
http://www.ufreenetwork.eu

UFree Network is an independent European-wide human rights network; set up to defend the rights of Palestinian political prisoners and detainees.
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