Political Prisoner Marwan Barghouti on Why Palestinians Hunger Strike
by Stephen Lendman
In a NYT international edition op-ed, not its US one able to reach Americans, Palestine's most widely respected political figure, imprisoned by Israel on trumped up charges to prevent his future run for president, Barghouti headlined "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel's Prisons."
It's for justice denied, Palestinian political prisoners using their sole power behind bars in cages - refusing food to resist Israeli viciousness.
Barghouti: "Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel's illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners."
"After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike."
On April 17, it began - Palestinian Prisoners Day, around 2,000 Palestinians participating so far - an open-ended strike for "Freedom and Dignity."
Barghouti: "It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells."
Longstanding Israeli viciousness is notorious, brutalizing Palestinians for not being Jewish, stealing their land and resources, imprisoning and torturing them, killing them, waging preemptive wars of aggression at its discretion - a clear indictment of a rogue state.
Barghouti: "Decades of experience have proved that Israel's inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong, by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their families and communities, using humiliating measures to compel subjugation. In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it."
"Israel, the occupying power, has violated international law in multiple ways for nearly 70 years, and yet has been granted impunity for its actions."
"It has committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions against the Palestinian people; the prisoners, including men, women and children, are no exception."
He was first imprisoned at age 15. At age 18, forced to strip naked in detention, an interrogator violently struck his genitals, causing him to pass out from the pain, striking his forehead from falling, leaving a permanent scar.
Later he was imprisoned when his first son was born, at age 18 arrested and imprisoned for four years, imprisoned again since April 2002 - given five consecutive life sentences plus 40 years, based on trumped up charges. His kangaroo court trial was a travesty of justice.
At the time, he called himself "a political leader," legally entitled "to resist occupation." He's a freedom fighter. He's no terrorist as Israel falsely claims.
Barghouti: "(T)he arrogance of the occupier and the oppressor and their backers…makes them deaf to this simple truth: Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost."
"Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence. Some have been killed while in detention."
"According to the latest count from the Palestinian Prisoners Club, about 200 Palestinian prisoners have died since 1967 because of such actions. Palestinian prisoners and their families also remain a primary target of Israel's policy of imposing collective punishments."
"Through out hunger strike, we seek an end to these abuses."
"Among the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians whom Israel has taken captive are children, women, parliamentarians, activists, journalists, human rights defenders, academics, political figures, militants, bystanders, family members of prisoners. And all with one aim: to bury the legitimate aspirations of an entire nation."
"Instead, though, Israel's prisons have become the cradle of a lasting movement for Palestinian self-determination. This new hunger strike will demonstrate once more that the prisoners' movement is the compass that guides our struggle, the struggle for Freedom and Dignity, the name we have chosen for this new step in our long walk to freedom."
Palestinian "solidarity exposes Israel's moral and political failure. Rights are not bestowed by an oppressor. Freedom and dignity are universal rights that are inherent in humanity, to be enjoyed by every nation and all human beings. Palestinians will not be an exception. Only ending occupation will end this injustice and mark the birth of peace."
For his courage, activism, outspokenness and hunger-striking, Barghouti was placed in punishing solitary confinement.
On Monday, thousands of Palestinians marched in solidarity with their hunger striking comrades. Israeli prison authorities declared "a state of emergency."
Palestinian lawyers declared a boycott of Israeli kangaroo military courts. Israeli doctors in civilian hospitals refuse to force-feed hunger strikers.
Since the Nakba, Israeli authorities detained about one million Palestinians - for wanting fundamental freedoms and justice, what everyone deserves.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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