Dora McPhee (VIC) writes to Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr re Palestinian prisoners 8May12 May 8, 2012

Dear Senator Carr,

I write regarding the hunger strike undertaken by Palestinian prisoners, who are protesting the conditions of their imprisonment and indeed the very nature of administrative detention, which allows Israel to detain people without charge and for often indefinite periods.

Not only is administrative detention a violation of human rights but given Israel’s 45 year long illegal military occupation which enables Israel to colonise the occupied territories, pillage the water resources all the while subjecting Palestinians to restricted freedom of movement and ongoing dispossession, it constitutes one of the many apartheid policies Israel uses against the indigenous population of Palestine.

The fact that we now have 2500 plus Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike is indicative of the total despair at the lack of justice for the Palestinians living under Israel’s belligerent occupation.

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike are fighting for their most basic human rights.

330 Palestinians are being held in administrative detention with no formal charges having been brought against them in a court of law. 28 elected members of the parliament, and three former ministers fall within this category.

Israel is currently holding all these Palestinian prisoners far away from their homes, and outside of the occupied territory. This constitutes a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

Israel routinely tries Palestinians before military courts, none of which meet the most basic standards of international law; particularly the laws relating to the treatment of prisoners of war and people under occupation.

It beggars belief that the world continues to look away when Palestinians are crying out to be heard in this non-violent protest against their treatment at the hands of Israel.

As Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights reminds us:

 “This current wave of hunger strikes started on April 17, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, and was directly inspired by the recently completed long and heroic hunger strikes of Khader Adnan (66 days) and Hana Shalabi (43 days), both of whom protested against the combination of administrative detention and abusive arrest and interrogation procedures. It should be understood that administrative detention depends on accusations contained in secret evidence not disclosed to the detainee or defence lawyers and allows Israel to imprison Palestinians for six months at a time, without bringing any criminal charges, with terms indefinitely renewable as they expire.”

 To date the hunger strikes undertaken are that of:

Bilal Diab- Day 70 of hunger strike
Thaer Halahleh- Day 70 of hunger strike
Hassan Safadi- Day 64 of hunger strike
Omar Abu Shalal- Day 62 of hunger strike
Mohammad Taj- Day 51 of hunger strike
Jaafar Azzedine- Day 47 of hunger strike
Mahmoud Sarsak- Day 46 of hunger strike
Abdullah Barghouti- Day 26 of hunger strike

Over 2,500 others are also on their 21st day of mass hunger strike.

 These Palestinians are all being denied access to independent doctors and lawyers, despite their rapidly deteriorating health conditions, as Israeli authorities continue to violate their human rights, in particular their right to health.

In the context of the mass hunger strike of Palestinian political prisoners, the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organisations,PCHRO:

  • calls on the European Union, in particular the EU Parliament, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to immediately intervene with Israel in order to save the lives of Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh and demand that they be released from administrative detention;
  • demands that all hunger strikers have unrestricted access to independent doctors and adequate medical care;
  • demands that the Member States of the United Nations urgently put pressure on Israel to end its policy of arbitrary detention and to abide by the standard rules for the treatment of prisoners adopted in 1955, which set out what is generally accepted as being good principle and practice in the treatment of prisoners;
  • calls on the European Parliament to dispatch a parliamentary fact-finding mission that includes members of its Subcommittee on Human Rights to investigate the conditions of detention of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

 Australia as a member state of the United Nations should also be taking action and demanding an end to grave violation of Palestinian prisoners human rights.

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