Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israeli Prisons Begin Hunger Strike
Women`s Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP) Newsletter
Women`s Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP)
P.O. Box 31811, Tel Aviv
Tel and Fax: +972-3-5227124
Newsletter August 2004
Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israeli Prisons Begin Hunger Strike.
Included the letter by the Committee for the Families of Political Prisoners and Detainees
NEVE TIRZA PRISON
There are now altogether approximately 100 Palestinian women political prisoners.
On 13 June one group, about half of the women, was transferred back to Neve Tirza from Hasharon Prison. Though they took with them, among other belongings, the purchases they had made in the Hasharon prison canteen and the material for handicrafts, these items were not handed over by the Neve Tirza prison authorities, who also withheld the toys belonging to Marwat Taha's baby boy Wael, one and a half years old.
The representatives elected by the women prisoners were not recognized by the prison authorities until August 2004.
The rooms are dirty and infected with mice and cockroaches. The heat is unbearable, The windows are closed and covered so that hardly any air or daylight can enter. There are not enough ventilators, and often the electricity is cut off, so that even the existing ventilators do not work.
PROBLEMS IN HASHARON AND NEVE TIRZA
The wardens' attitude is extremely hostile; they humiliate and offend the prisoners.
The food is insufficient, of inferior quality or even spoilt, it is dirty, often containing insects and worms. Sometimes there are not enough portions for all the women.
The medical care is insufficient and unprofessional. Whatever the complaints of the women, the male nurse gives them a painkiller. If and when a woman at last succeeds to be seen by the prison doctor, she is supposed to undress in the presence of male wardens, which obviously she has to refuse. - After falling down, Majed Nas had her swollen leg bandaged by a male nurse. Only two weeks later she was seen by a doctor and obtained a prescription, but the medication was not available in the prison. - Dental care was even more difficult to obtain than regular medical care, but as of July the prisoners are supposed to have regular access to a dentist.
Letters and newspapers are not distributed regularly, and sometimes even letters that bear an exact address are returned to the sender. - Zakya 'Awisah, an administrative detainee, who was released in July, had received many letters of support. The commander of the wing where she had been held, had threatened that if she continued to receive so many letters, she would not be allowed to write and receive any letters at all.
Mothers with babies are living in the same cells with other prisoners. Contrary to what is an accepted custom in the section of the criminal prisoners, the doors of the political prisoners' cells where small children live are not permitted to remain open during daytime. On behalf of the mothers and their babies, the lawyer of The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Sonia Boulous, and of WOFPP, Taghrid Jahshan, are preparing an appeal against this condition.
Permission to stand for matriculation exams is given arbitrarily. Out of sixteen women who asked to pass the exams, only five were given the permission. The lawyers of ACRI and WOFPP appealed against this situation. The prison authorities stated that standing for these exams is a privilege, and they can decide on whom this privilege is bestowed. The High Court's opinion, expressed on 21 July, was that standing for matriculation exams is not a privilege but a basic right and recommended that the prison authorities take this into consideration.
Apparently, standing for matriculations exams will be allowed according to arrangements of the Education Ministry of the Palestinian Authority.
The arbitrary punishments meted out to the prisoners are increasing and are becoming harsher.
There is a new method of punishing the women by imposing fines that are taken out of their prison canteen accounts. Considering that they have to buy additional food in order to complement the poor prison diet, and other basics, this is a very serious punishment.
They are often put into solitary confinement in very small and very dirty cells.
They are prevented from receiving family visits.
Quite often they are beaten, but the prison authorities do not admit this. They claim that beating is not a punishment but a method of self defense.
On a hot day at the beginning of July, during recreation time, the women were having fun splashing water on each other. For this, seven women were fined NIS 200.- (US$ 50) each, and three women among the seven were punished additionally by being deprived of their daily walk in the yard for one week, and of family visits for two months.
After a bucketful of water got spilled on the foot of a warden, Maha El'ak was beaten, tied to her bed for a day and a half and not allowed to go to the toilet. She was held in solitary confinement for one month.
After the assassination of the Palestinian leader in Gaza, El-Rantissi, some women returned the food and held a mourning ceremony by saying prayers. For this, eight women were fined. NIS 400.- (US$ 100) each, they were not permitted to have family visits for two months, and some of them were put into solitary confinement for a few days.
Su'ad Ghazal was punished for writing details about their prison conditions in a letter to a French Human Rights Organization. Her punishment was a fine of NIS 250.- (US$ 65) and no family visits for two months.
Su'ad Abu Hamed had switched off the light in her cell, after a warden had switched it on at 4 o'clock in the morning. For this she was held in solitary confinement and fined NIS 450.- (US$ 112). Amne Muna was punished in her turn by being fined NIS 150.- (US$ 38) because she tried to intervene on behalf of Su'ad Abu Hamed.
Lawyers' visits are becoming more difficult. Lawyers have to ask a permission to visit at least two days before the visit would take place, and they may be refused. A few times the WOFPP's lawyer, Taghrid Jahshan, was permitted to visit but on arriving at the prison the prison authorities, offering various pretexts, did not let her see the prisoners.
PETAH TIKVA DETENTION CENTER
Tali Fahima, 28 years old, from Tel Aviv, was detained on 9 August. She was interrogated by the "Shabak" (General Security Services). Her lawyer told the court that Tali had been interrogated for about 12 hours without any rest, with her hands tied behind her back. She had already been detained in May 2004, some time after she had appeared on television, stating that she opposed the assassination of Palestinian leaders and was ready to serve as a human shield.
THE ISRAELI MILITARY PRISON FOR WOMEN
Laura Milo, a conscientious objector who refuses to serve in the Israeli Army (IDF) was sentenced for the first time in March 2004 to one month in military jail. She was then sent to the "Military Commission of Conscience" which decided that her refusal to serve was based on political reasons and not reasons of conscience. She was therefore sentenced again in July to 28 days in military jail.
Campaign for the Rights of Political Prisoners
Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israeli Prisons Begin Hunger Strike
To all Friends and Supporters of Human Rights around the World:
The Committee for the Families of Political Prisoners and Detainees in the West Bank, representing 7,500 political prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, is seeking the support of the international community in its campaign against the gross violations of their rights that the prisoners are enduring and against the appalling conditions under which they are being detained.
Political prisoners in Israeli prisons will be commencing a hunger strike on Sunday, August 15, 2004 to protest their conditions. They complain that the conditions they experience are reminiscent of the former Abu Ghoraib facility in Iraq which gained worldwide notoriety recently for its treatment of detainees.
When informed by the prisoners of their intended hunger strike prison authorities responded with harsher treatment, vowing not to give in to any of the prisonersĀf demands even if the hunger strikes result in the deaths of prisoners.
Some of the conditions that the prisoners are protesting include:
Āú Arbitrary and indiscriminate beating of prisoners in their cells, in prison courtyards and during transportation to and from prisons.
Āú Arbitrary and indiscriminate firing of tear gas into prisonerĀfs cells and prison courtyards and intimidation of prisoners by guards entering their cells with guns.
Āú Humiliating strip searches of prisoners in full view of other prisoners and guards each time they enter or exit their cells
Āú Subjecting prisoners to solitary confinement for excessive periods of time, for months and even years.
Āú Arbitrary imposition of financial penalties on prisoners for minor infractions, arbitrary revocation of visitation rights and extended confinement to cells as punishment for minor infractions such as singing or speaking too loudly
Āú Confining children with adult prisoners and political prisoners with criminals
Āú Withholding or delaying medical treatment and the provision of medication to sick detainees
Āú Severely restricting the category of family members entitled to visit prisoners thus denying visitation rights to other close family members
Āú Arbitrary denial of travel permits to family members of prisoners living in the West Bank or Gaza so that they cannot travel to prisons to see their relatives
Āú Imposing conditions on travel for family members and obstacles that result in travel of a few hours being prolonged to 16 or 17 hours for a 45-minute visit
Āú Conducting humiliating strip searches of visiting family members even though they are usually separated from the prisoners by a full glass barrier as well as a wire mesh barrier.
Āú Providing such poor visitation facilities that prisoners find it difficult to see or hear their loved ones
Āú Maintaining prisoners on near starvation diets that are insufficient to sustain health.
Āú Applying rules concerning items that prisoners may receive from their families arbitrarily and inconsistently, on the whim of the guards, with each visit.
Āú Withdrawing studying privileges that in the past allowed prisoners to continue their high school or university studies through correspondence courses
The treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israel violates both international and Israeli laws, as well as rules governing the administration of Israeli prisons. The Committee for the Families is planning a series of activities in the West Bank to coincide with the start of the hunger strike on August 15th. A press conference in Ramallah will kick off the campaign. Hunger strike solidarity tents will be set up in the centre of all the cities in the West Bank and in all the Red Cross Centres and will be occupied by the public around the clock for as long as the prisonersĀf strike lasts. The Palestinian Prime MinisterĀfs office has declared August 18th a National Day for Prisoners for all Palestinians to show solidarity with the prisoners. All government ministers, members of the Palestinian National Council and heads of all political parties will join the public in the Solidarity Tents and fast in support of the prisoners.
Other planned activities are: On Friday, August 20, after JumĀfa prayers at mosques processions will march towards the Solidarity Tents. On Saturday, August 21st, Palestinians in various Israeli cities will march, together with other supporters, to the prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are being held and on Sunday, August 22, after church services processions will march to the Solidarity Tents. These processions will be held every weekend during the campaign. On August 23rd children of the prisoners will lead a procession. On August 25th all professionals involved in the Justice system in Palestine will congregate at the Solidarity Tents in their official legal gowns and will lead a procession to the centre of their cities. On August 26th the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Arun Gandhi, will lead a mass procession in Ramallah. On August 29th all members of the public are invited to join the open hunger strike and in the evening candlelight processions will be held.
The families of the Palestinian political prisoners plead with you, the members of the international community, to join in solidarity with our sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters who are being held in Israeli prisons by organizing an International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners on September 4, 2004. We ask you to demonstrate, march, hold silent vigils or activities to publicize the plight of the political prisoners and bring pressure on the government of Israel to cease these violations of law and to treat Palestinian prisoners as human beings entitled to basic human rights.
We ask you also register your protests by letter, fax, email, or telephone to the officials listed below. Ask them to stop the harsh treatment of Palestinian political prisoners and to accede the demands of the striking prisoners so that the conditions under which they are imprisoned are consistent with international norms of human rights and basic decency.
Also, please register your protest with your own political representatives and governments ministers.
Please send a copy of your protest message to firstname.lastname@example.org Messages of support from organizations would also be appreciated by the prisoners and their families. Please send them to the same address with some details of the organization. For more information visit our temporary website at www.palsolidarity.org/prisoners or telephone (972) 2 277 4602 or email: email@example.com
With much appreciation for your valued support,
Mahmoud Ziadi, General Secretariat,
Families of Palestinian Political Prisoners
PO Box 2151, Ramallah, Palestine.
List of Israeli government officials:
Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon Minister of Defense, Shaul Mofaz
Office of the Prime Minister Ministry of Defense, 37 Kaplan St.
3 Kaplan St. PO Box 187 Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Jerusalem 91919, Israel Fax: +972-3-6962757 / -691 7915
Telegram: Prime Minister, Jerusalem Israel email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Fax: +972 2 6705475 email@example.com
Minister of Justice, Yosef Lapid Minister of Interior Security
Ministry of Justice Tzahi Hanegbi
29 Salah al-Din St. Kiryat Hamemshala, POB 18182
Jerusalem 91010, Israel Jerusalem 91181
Telegram: Justice Minister, Tel: 972-2-5309999 Fax: 2-5847872
Fax: +972 2 6285492 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Addresses of Israeli embassies worldwide can be found at www.embassyworld.com/embassy/isreal1.htm or go to the Government of Israel website at www.info.gov.il/FirstGov/
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