Colleague Hiba Ayyad presented a speech titled “Sick Prisoners in Danger, Let’s Save Them” representing Hurryyat Center at the Second Conference of the European Alliance in Defense of Palestine Detainees, held at the city of Berlin – Germany. The speech combined the issues discussed below.
The cause of sick prisoners in the Israeli occupation prisons is a priority for both the prisoners’ movement and the Palestinian people in general, for the danger this issue poses upon their lives threatening it by the deliberate medical negligence that the Israeli prison services practice against them following the orders of the Israeli government. Many initiatives have attempted to save the prisoners lives and release them from detainment, particularly local and international conferences that shed light on their cause as an attempt to alleviate the awareness of the international community and human rights organizations toward their suffering, urging them to undertake their legal responsibilities and obligations towards this cause, and impel the Israeli government to order their immediate release. The release of the sick prisoners has also been a priority for the Palestinian National Authority.
The Shalit Prisoner Exchange gave hope to the sick prisoners and their families who hoped that their release would be more probable after the agreement to release the veteran prisoners with the oldest verdicts. But hope was lost with the Israeli Government’s denial to release the fourth batch of prisoners, the re-detainment of 73 prisoners liberated by the Shalit Exchange, and the sentencing of 45 prisoners of them to their previous verdicts. Amongst them are Samer Essawi, whose hunger strike marks the longest in history, and the dean of prisoners Nael Barghouti entering his 35th year of detainment.
The Danger facing the lives of sick prisoners has never been in this critical state; the number has risen to 1000, 200 of which suffer chronic diseases, while 85 suffer critical diseases including 28 cancer patients, 24 disabled, and 8 suffering paralysis. The rest of the cases include heart disorders, renal diseases, epidemic hepatitis, osteoporosis, blood pressure, diabetes, and psychological and neurological disorders. The prisoners facing the most critical circumstances are: Yussri Al-Masri from Deir Al-Balah – Gaza, and Eyass Al-Rifa’i from Kufr Ein – Ramallah, suffering cancer in progressive stages while the Israeli government refuses to release them free despite the many appeals submitted by the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs Committee and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club to the military courts for a prior release.
It is crucial to note that 61 Palestinian prisoners have died due to medical negligence the last of whom was Jaafar Awad who died 3 months following his release while he was only 23 of age and was perfectly healthy prior to his arrest. The continuous medical negligence, the refusal to release critical cases, the Israeli government’s denying the attendance of any international medical committees for visits, and the continuous vulgar and repressive
actions taken against them charges the international community and all the free people in this world to undertake an exceptional responsibility in saving their lives. The Second Conference proves the importance of the initiatives taken on your part to support Palestinian prisoners, but particularly the sick prisoners.
As Palestinians we bear the mission of crystalizing a national strategy that reinforces your role and efforts in supporting the cause of prisoners, and hasten the submission of the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This gesture will symbolize a means of deterring the occupation from breaking the will and resilience of the prisoners through the collective punishment that the Israeli government imposes, and will help stand in the face of the racist Knesset projects aiming to inforce capital punishment on political prisoners.
Consequently, Palestinian human rights organizations active in the cause of prisoners should cooperate in pursuing this cause through visiting the prisons and detention centers, documenting and transmitting the suffering of the prisoners, offering them the necessary legal aid, and securing the visits of the possible doctors and specialists as allowed by the prison security services who purposely prolong giving their approval.
The role of Hurryyat Center in attending to the cause of sick prisoners, augmenting through the past three years, would not have been possible without the growing Arab and regional awareness towards the cause of prisoners in general, and the sick in particular. We are extremely grateful to the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development for funding and supporting our efforts towards the sick prisoners.
We salute you and wish your conference all the success
Freedom Be to Our Prisoners and Glory Be to Our Martyrs