Monday, March 26, 2012

Our Hunger Strikes & Theirs

"Palestinian hunger striker Hanaa ash-Shalabi was transferred to a hospital earlier today after Physicians for Human Rights determined her life was in danger, urging her to remain under observation in the hospital because of her 'feeble pulse'. She didn't stay long, however, as Israeli officials rejected the call for 'observation' and sent Shalabi immediately back to prison following her examination. Shalabi has been on a hunger strike for 33 [now 40] days. Shalabi became the second high profile hunger striker of the year for Israel, after a multi-month strike by Khader Adnan. Shalabi, like Adnan, is being held without charges under a military 'detention' order*. Shalabi had been held for over 2 years under a similar 'detention' order without charges as part of the prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit. She was arrested again in February, however, and started the strike in protest at her complete lack of legal recourse for open-ended summary detentions." (Palestinian hunger striker hospitalized, in failing health, Jason Ditz,, 19/3/12)

In August 1995, however, you - who normally avoid ostentatious acts - went on a hunger strike in front of the prime minister's office in Jerusalem.
That's right. I wanted to bring public attention to the disastrous proportions that the [Oslo] agreement was taking on. Of course, one can express oneself in the Knesset, but words are not enough anymore, a powerful gesture was needed. Unfortunately, the hunger strike had less impact on opinion than I had hoped. With better organization and the involvement of the international press, the hunger strike probably would have attracted more attention.
How long did you fast?
Eight days.
(Ariel Sharon: An Intimate Portrait, Uri Dan, 2006, p 136)

[* "The procedure of military detention, in all its phases, is conducted under a veil of utter secrecy and in violation of the right of the detainee to defense. It enables a person to be held in detention without evidence and without trial, on the basis of classified intelligence alleging that he constitutes a security risk. The nature of the allegations is known only to the actors involved: the General Security Service (GSS) who supplies the 'security material', the military commander who signs the detention order, the military prosecutor who is the advisor and representative of the military commander and the military judge who is expected to apply his 'judicial review' to the order. This hermetically closed circle, which does not leave even a shred of transparency, does not allow the detainee to defend himself, absolves the prosecutor from the burden of proof and prevents the judge from writing a reasoned decision. This is how administrative detention orders are issued. The maximum period of each single order cannot exceed 6 months, but the overall detention period can be extended indefinitely." (The Mysteries of Administrative Detention, Tamar Pelleg-Sryck, in Threat: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel, ed. by Abeer Baker & Anat Matar, 2011, p 124)]

1 comment:

Peter D said...

Although he doesn’t inspire a whole lot of sympathy, Brendon O’Connell happens to be around 20 days into a hunger strike in W.A., protesting his incarceration for racial vilification – Jews being the victim of his attacks. He was sentenced to 3 years jail, 18 months non-parole, just over a year ago now, I believe. It isn’t pretty what he did, but I would have thought anything over 6 months non-parole would be considered excessive by any reasonable person.

It’s interesting to compare his case to that of Hajnal Black. Black moved over a million dollars of a dementia sufferer’s funds into her own bank account because she (and, barring her husband, only she) maintains that’s what the dementia sufferer wanted. And at the latest of the court proceedings she has attended, she by all accounts showed outright contempt for the judge and the court (which is what O’Connell did during his day at court). So for saying nasty words about a group of people, and thumbing his nose at the courts, O’Connell spends a minimum of 18 months in jail, whereas Black seems to have taken a million dollars off of a person whose mental faculties are compromised, thumbed her nose at the courts, pays an $8000 fine (due to offenses she committed unrelated to the taking of the dementia sufferer's money) and is currently deciding whether she will run in the upcoming council elections to keep the seat she holds.

Note: I read somewhere in the recent flurry of newspaper articles than her husband categorises he and Hanjal as a “Christian couple,” but Hajnal Black has said in the past that she has relatives who were Jewish holocaust survivors.

Of course, none of this compares to being held for years without charge, which is what so many Palestinians have to endure.