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Struggling on Empty Stomachs for Justice

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 21 June 2012

  Struggling on Empty Stomachs for Justice


by Stephen Lendman


Rare Palestinian battles are won.  Liberating struggles continue. 


Hunger strikers Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi were released. After 92 days without food, Israel agreed to free footballer Mahmoud Sarsak. 


He'll leave prison on July 10. He's been held nearly three years uncharged and untried.


Doing so constitutes gulag justice.


In the presence of prison officials and his lawyer, he ceremonially broke his fast by eating a piece of chocolate. 


He faces a protracted struggle back to full health. His ordeal left him close to death. What's ahead remains uncertain.


On June 20, a joint Addameer/Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) press release headlined:


"Battle of the Empty Stomachs wages on: Akram Rikhawi’s health continues to deteriorate as Mahmoud Sarsak’s hunger strike successfully concludes," saying:


Akram Rikhawi continues hunger striking for justice. June 22 was day 72. He faces "imminent threat to his life...."


On June 19, Addameer lawyer Mona Neddaf saw him. He's at Ramle Prison's clinic. Independent doctors can't treat him. PHR-I physicians last visited him on June 6.


He's extremely tired, weak, and at risk. At 108 pounds, he's considerably below his normal weight. Since June 16, he refused vitamins and IV drips. He's only ingesting water.


Neddaf "observe(d) that even drinking water is now very difficult for him, and he is only able to consume approximately one liter per day."


Ramle provides appalling medical care. Its doctors violate their Hippocratic Oath. They don't treat patients ethically and responsibly. 


They're indifferent to human suffering. They're complicit in torture and other abuses.They're not doctors. They're charlatans.


Israel won't let Akram or other prisoners get proper care. He faces imminent death. Fasting, severe weight loss, and chronic illnesses threaten him. 


He suffers from diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. He's been held unjustly at Ramle since 2004. He demands release on medical grounds.


On June 14, an Israeli District Court rejected PHR-I's request to transfer him to civilian care. It also denied his release petition and won't intervene to permit family visits. 


Even Israel's draconian gulag rules provide parole eligibility after two-thirds of sentences are served. Akram qualifies. It didn't help.


He's held in the same room as Samer Barq. He's also hunger striking. On June 22, he reached day 33. He's administratively detained uncharged.


Akram said he and Samer retain hope. Their morale is high. Their cause is just. They deserve freedom, not prison. They committed no crimes. They're both pressured to resume eating.


Like thousands of others in Israel's gulag, they're political prisoners. They resist courageously. Struggling for justice with empty stomachs is their only option. They hope they won't be forgotten.


Addameer and PHR-I urge continued pressure to get Israel to observe its international law obligations.


It spurns them with impunity. Racism is official state policy. So is state terror. Israel is a global menace. It policies threaten humanity. 


After two and a half months without food, Akram may have little time left. Israel doesn't care if he lives or dies.


A Final Comment


On June 8, UN Special (Palestinian human rights) Rapporteur Richard Falk expressed deep concern for Mahmoud Sarsak and Akram Rikhawi, saying:


"These individuals are protesting against their detention without charges and are suffering immensely for it.


"There is no acceptable basis for continuing to hold these persons, and Israel will be responsible if any permanent harm results."


Sarsak was granted released. Akram's ordeal continues.


"If Israeli officials cannot present evidence to support charges against (him), then (he and others uncharged) must be released immediately."


"Israel must end the appalling and unjust treatment of Palestinian prisoners, and the international community needs to raise its voice and take steps to end Israel’s flagrant misuse of administrative detention."


Falk said he'd follow up on every Palestinian held uncharged and report to the Human Rights Council on July 2.


He's an outspoken Israeli critic. So are others like him unwilling to tolerate its appalling human rights abuses. 


Under international law, they're crimes against humanity. Responsible officials must be held accountable. Impunity is no longer an option.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 


His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"


Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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