Posters in support of Akram Rikhawi
Where is the mass Palestinian non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation? That’s what those so-smug liberal journalists like Friedman and Kristof ask. However, when it comes they do not see it, if they do see it, they do not write about it. Maybe it is not exactly the protest they envisioned.
Akram Rikhawi, who has been on a hunger-strike for 71 days, is in imminent danger of death. Rikhawi is requesting that the Israeli Prison Service release him on humanitarian grounds due to declining health. Rikhawi, who has long suffered from asthma and diabetes, has been in an Israeli prison since 2004. The Palestinian prisoner rights organization, Addameer, is demanding that Rikhawi be immediately admitted to a civilian hospital so that he may receive the appropriate care.
According to a June 20th posting on the Addameer web site:
Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) reiterate their grave concern for Akram Rikhawi, who continues to face an imminent threat to his life on his 70th day of hunger strike today. Addameer lawyer Mona Neddaf was able to visit him yesterday in Ramleh prison medical clinic, though independent doctors from PHR-Israel are still being denied regular access to him since last visiting on 6 June.
Ms. Neddaf noted following her visit that Akram is extremely tired and weak and now weighs only 49 kilos. Furthermore, since 16 June he is refusing any vitamins and fluids through an IV. Though he is sustaining himself on water alone, Ms. Neddaf was troubled to observe that even drinking water is now very difficult for him and he is only able to consume approximately one liter per day.
Akram has not received a visit from an independent doctor since 6 June, as Israeli authorities continually deny requests by PHR-Israel. Fifteen days have now passed since the PHR-Israel doctor determined that Akram is at immediate risk of death, due to the combination of his protracted hunger strike and his prior chronic conditions, including diabetes and asthma. On 14 June, the Israeli District Court rejected an appeal filed by PHR-Israel to transfer Akram to a civilian hospital, despite his deteriorating health. Akram emphasized to Ms. Neddaf his wishes to be immediately transferred to a civilian hospital for proper care.
Rikhawi shares a cell with Sameer al-Barq, who has been on a hunger strike for 32 days. Al-Barq is an administrative detainee who is subject to indefinite incarceration without any charges brought against him.
In addition to Addameer’s demand for the hospitalization of Rikhawi, the organization wants the authorities to permit independent physicians to examine both prisoners and to allow their families visitation rights.
Rikhawi and al-Barq have not received the world-wide publicity generated by the case of Gazan footballer, Mahmoud Sarsak, who has reportedly won a July 10th prison release after a fast of more than 90 days. Palestinian and international activists are hoping to generate the same level of publicity for other prisoners who are continuing their hunger strikes.
Although a month-long general hunger strike of as many as 2000 prisoners ended in an agreement with the Israeli authorities in May, dozens of prisoners continue to protest by refusing to eat. The current hunger strikers include a group of 20 teenagers who are being held in Hasharon prison. The youngsters, who began their strike on June 12, are protesting the harsh conditions of their imprisonment