Samer Issawi is on hunger strike since 1/8/2012. The last message that he sent from his prison was that he will continue his hunger strike until he will be released from his unjust imprisonment or die as a martyr.
Samer is a Palestinian from Issawiya in Al Quds (Jerusalem). He happened to be a youth, twenty years old, when the Palestinian people begun their second Intifada in September 2000 in a desperate attempt to get rid of the occupation. Samer joined the resistance and in April 2004 was arrested, accused of armed struggle and sentenced to 30 years in prison. You can learn from this that even the occupation forces didn’t accuse Samer of killing anybody, as if this was the charge he would be sentenced to life in prison…
Samer was released from prison in the prisoners’ exchange of October 2011 (in which Israel secured the release of its soldier Gilad Shalit). He planned to get married and open his own small business. But the Occupation didn’t let him more that a few months to enjoy his new freedom. On July 7, 2012, he was arrested in an army road block in Jerusalem, accused of infringement of his conditions of release by going to Ramallah. For 28 days he was under intense interrogation by the Israeli Shabak, prevented for meeting a lawyer, isolated from the world, deprived of sleep and tortured. Yet no new charges against him “surfaced”.
There are thousands of Palestinians political prisoners and resistance fighters in Israeli prisons. Hundreds of them are political activists that are held under administrative detention without any formal accusation and without even the farce of a military court. Thousands are imprisoned for taking part in the popular resistance – demonstrating against the robbery of their land and the demolition of their houses. Many are imprisoned for resisting the occupation – as Israeli military and civilian law criminalize any act of resistance and doesn’t recognize the legitimate right of occupied people to resist the occupation.
Yet, what provokes prolonged hunger strikes like Samer’s, are extremely blatant cases of injustice that stand out from the daily routine of injustice that we came to take for granted. One example of such blatant injustice is the “Shalit Committee” in the “Ofer” military court, which without any resemblance of due process decided that Samer should be returned to prison to serve more that 20 years still left from his initial sentence. There were no formal accusations and no way in which Samer could defend himself. The only thing that we know is that he is accused of going to Ramallah…
In a report in Arabic about Samer’s case in Al-Dameer’s site, which I failed to find in English, they describe a family with six brothers and two sisters. Samer’s big brother Fadi was killed by the Israeli army in 1994 when soldiers went on a shooting spree after the massacre in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil. Another brother, Midhat, spent 19 years in the occupation prisons. His sister is a lawyer, Shirin Issawi, but she also spent a year in prison in 2010.
Yesterday, while in Issawiya, we visited the solidarity tent and the family’s home, and met Samer’s mother, father, sister Shirin and some of his brothers. They are all mobilized for the struggle to save Samer’s life and freedom. Samer’s father wanted us to carry a message to the world that freedom for Samer will be an important message of hope for freedom and peace for everybody.
His mother told us of the family’s suffering. When Samer was out of prison in 2011 it was the first time that she had all her sons and daughters around her at the same time. She told the gathering of young activists in the house that all her hopes to see Samer alive again are now in their hands. She said she won’t thank them as they only do their duty in the struggle – but then Samer’s father thanked everybody in the name of the family. He said Samer’s struggle is an important step to defend all the people that were released in the prisoners’ exchange against Israeli violations of the agreement.
On Saturday 2/2/2013, the local youth organization “revolt on any government” invited us to take part in solidarity activity with Samer in Issawiya. Herak Haifa issued a special call to join the Issawiya action. Some twenty activists from all around Palestine joined two hundred local youth for a march from the top of the hill to the mosque’s yard where the protest tent stands. Then we marched to Samer’s house farther down the valley. There were some Palestinian flags, many posters of Samer and flags of all the Palestinian different resistance movements. The main slogan was “Al-Mawt Wa-La Al-Mazaleh” – “Death and not Humiliation”. It is an Arab Spring slogan from Syria, like the youth organization that took the initiative. Very few old people except for the family took part.
The youth that organized the event said it was very successful. The told us about a long siege of Issawiya by occupation forces that prevented anybody from coming to express solidarity with the protest tent and the family. They told about repeated incursion by the army to the village – destroying the protest tent and arresting local activists. So our repeated open presence in the streets sent an important message.
Your actions in solidarity with the striking prisoners have won the release of Khader Adnan, Hana Shalabi, Mahmoud Sarsak and other prisoners. You can also save the life of Samer Issawi and make an important contribution in the struggle against the occupation and for freedom, justice and peace.
Israel has no special reason to arrest him, to let him die. They do it only because they can, because the life and liberty of the Palestinians have no value in their racist blind eyes. Our struggle may make the difference – raise the awareness of the world’s public opinion and make Israel pay a price for stamping on other peoples’ rights.
Free Samer Issawi!
This article was translated to Hebrew…
Demonstration Monday 4/2/2013 at 16:00 in front of the Ramlah Prison’s Hospital.