SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A Palestinian inmate ended a prolonged hunger strike Tuesday after reaching a deal with Israeli military prosecutors for early release, his lawyer and family said.
Samer Issawi, whose fast helped fuel weeks of protests in the West Bank this year, will be allowed to return home to East Jerusalem after he serves eight more months, his attorney, Jawad Boulus, said.
Issawi, 33, had refused food for 227 days, receiving only infusions of water, vitamins and other supplements, Boulus said. Israeli and Palestinian officials feared an outbreak of violence in the West Bank if he died in prison.
Issawi embarked on the hunger strike to protest his arrest in July for allegedly violating the terms of a previous release by traveling to the West Bank.
He was one of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners freed in 2011 in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Issawi was originally arrested in 2002 in connection with a number of shooting attacks on Israeli vehicles and sentenced to 26 years in prison.
After his latest arrest, Issawi had expected to serve the rest of his sentence, but he will be granted amnesty under Tuesday's deal, Boulus said.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Assawi's sister and attorney at Israel's Kaplan hospital, where he has been under medical observation. Issawi had rejected release offers that would have required him to go to Europe, the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, Boulus said.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Guards have swept through communal cellblocks at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and moved the inmates into one-man cells in an attempt to end a hunger strike that began in February.
"Some detainees resisted with improvised weapons, and in response, four less-than-lethal rounds were fired. There were no serious injuries to guards or detainees," Navy Captain Robert Durand said in a news release on Saturday.
He said the action was taken because detainees had covered windows and surveillance cameras to block the guards' view into the cellblocks.
"Round-the-clock monitoring is necessary to ensure security, order, and safety as detainees continued a prolonged hunger strike by refusing regular camp-provided meals," Durand said.
He said medical personnel had examined each detainee afterwards.
There were no serious injuries from the rounds, which included a modified shotgun shell that fires small rubber pellets as well as a type of bean-bag projectile, said Army Col. Greg Julian, a spokesman for Miami-based US Southern Command, which oversees the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba.
"I know for sure that one detainee was hit but the injuries were minor, just some bruises," Julian said.
The detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba holds 166 men, most of them captured more than a decade ago in counter-terrorism operations.
Saturday's early-morning sweep took place in Camp 6, a medium-security building where 80 to 100 detainees lived in cells that open into communal bays where they could eat, pray and watch television together.
As part of the hunger strike, prisoners had been refusing to let food carts enter some of the bays.
Earlier in the week, Durand said 43 prisoners were taking part in a hunger strike, including 11 who were being force-fed liquid nutrients through tubes inserted into their noses and down to their stomachs.
The practice is considered torture by some.
The hunger strike began in February to protest the seizure of personal items from detainees' cells. Some prisoners told their lawyers that their Qurans had been mistreated during the cell searches, which the US military denied.
Attorneys, military officials and human rights monitors have all said the hunger strike was partly an expression of frustration over the prisoners' unresolved fate.
About half of them have been cleared for release or transfer, but the US Congress has made it increasingly difficult to move prisoners out of Guantanamo and President Barack Obama has failed to implement his 2009 order to shut down the detention camp.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Forty-one prisoners have now been classified as hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay, though none of them are in hospital, the prison’s spokesman said. Inmates maintain that the actual number is over three times higher.
Follow RT’s day-by-day timeline on Gitmo hunger strike
Navy Capt. Robert Durand said that the slight increase, up one from Thursday, takes into account all prisoners who have missed at least nine consecutive meals.
He added that two prisoners who had been hospitalized for dehydration have now been released, and eleven more are being force-fed to keep them from losing enough weight to endanger their lives.
The US military has continued to engage in the controversial process of forced feeding – an act the UN has compared to torture- despite opposition from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) monitoring the prisoners’ condition.
Despite the officially recognized figure, prisoners and their attorneys have long maintained that 130 out of the camps 166 detainees have already joined the hunger strike.
The hunger strike, which reportedly began around February 6, “was precipitated by widespread searches of detainees’ Qur’ans – perceived as religious desecration – as well as searches and confiscation of other personal items, including family letters and photographs, and legal mail, seemingly without provocation or cause,” Fifty-one attorneys wrote to defense secretary Chuck Hagel on March 14.
US authorities have summarily denied the prisoners’ claims.
On Friday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on Washington to close Guantanamo Bay in an uncharacteristically strong statement from the UN.
Pillay, who characterized the prison hunger strike as a “desperate” but "scarcely surprising” act, expressed her “deep disappointment” that the US government had not followed through on its four-year-old pledge to shut down Guantanamo Bay.
“We must be clear about this, the United States is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold,” Pillay said in a statement.
She further condemned “the continuing indefinite incarceration of many of the detainees,” saying it “amounts to arbitrary detention,” a violation of international law.
Of the 166 detainees, who hail from 23 different countries, only nine have been formally charged or convicted of a criminal offense.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – An attorney representing thirteen hunger striking prisoners at the United States’ infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba has said the inmates are prepared to die unless the US military stops disrespecting the Holy Qur’an.
"It's the ultimate expression of desperation," David Remes said on Saturday. "It's a matter of personal autonomy... the detainees are determined to take it all the way unless the military stops searching their Qur’ans."
Remes said that the hunger strikers are determined to take it all the way unless there are changes to the protocols governing how the Qur’an is treated at the prison.
He also said the prisoners have little faith in the jail’s new commander and do not trust the monitors from the International Committee of the Red Cross who visited them.
On Thursday, a group of lawyers stated in an emergency motion filed with a federal court in Washington that the Guantanamo guards had refused to provide drinking water to hunger strikers and kept camp temperature “extremely frigid” to break the strike.
The lawyers also said the lack of drinkable water had led to medical conditions affecting the kidneys, urinary system, and the stomach of the prisoners on strike.
About a hundred of Guantanamo inmates have been on a hunger strike since early February. They are demanding an end to their indefinite detention.
Rights activists say several prisoners have lost between nine to 22 kilograms.
They also accuse jail authorities of seeking to downplay the extent of the situation inside the detention camp.
More than 160 inmates have been kept at Guantanamo without charge since early 2000s.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Several more detainees at the United States’ infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba are staging a hunger strike to protest disrespect of the Qur’an and confiscation of personal items.
A US official at the prison confirmed on Tuesday that the number of detainees on hunger strike at the Guantanamo has risen to 24 since last week.
"Today, Tuesday, March 19, 2013, we have 24 hunger strikers, with 8 on internal feed," said Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a prison spokesman.
Durand dismissed as untrue the reports of the inmates' deteriorating health as a result of their hunger strike.
On March 11, attorneys for more than a dozen of the prisoners said that the protest was prompted by a series of searches that began on February 6 in which a number of personal items, including books, CDs, blankets, and legal mail, were confiscated.
Meanwhile, a group of around 50 military-appointed public defenders, who represent most of the Guantanamo prisoners, said the majority of the inmates are on hunger strike.
Rights activists say several prisoners have lost between nine to 22 kilograms (48.5 pounds).
They also accuse jail authorities of seeking to downplay the extent of the situation inside the detention camp.
"The prisoners know that the Guantanamo staff is denying the scale of this peaceful protest, and it's provoking the men to take even more strict approach to their hunger strike," said Omah Farah from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).
"It is irresponsible for Guantanamo authorities to deny or to diminish the severity of what's going on because that is only going to further jeopardize the prisoners' lives and health. It will only lead to a worse result," Farah added.
The US holds about 166 men at the prison. A mass hunger strike involved many of the prisoners in the summer of 2005 but the protest dwindled after the military began tying people down and force-feeding them liquid nutrients through tubes to prevent them from starving to death.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Two Palestinian detainees who have been on an extended hunger strike in an Israeli jail have been taken to hospital following deterioration of their health.
The Palestinian Prisoner Society said on Wednesday that Samer Issawi and Ayman Sharawna were moved to hospital after suffering serious health complications.
The two men have been refusing food for months in protest at their re-arrest after being released in October 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal that led to the freeing by Hamas of captured Israeli trooper Gilad Shalit.
The two were among four prisoners -- held without formal charge in an Israeli jail -- who have refused to eat for between three and six months.
The other two, Tariq Qaadan and Jafar Ezzedine, started taking food on Wednesday after Israeli authorities promised not to extend their detention at a hearing next week.
The plight of Palestinian prisoners and the recent death of one in an Israeli jail have sparked angry protests across the Gaza Strip and Israel-occupied West Bank over the past week.
Arafat Jaradat, a 30-year-old father of two, died in disputed circumstances in the jail last weekend. He was arrested on February 18 on suspicion of being involved in hurling stones at Israeli troopers at a demonstration in al-Khalil (Hebron).
Israel claims that Jaradat had died of cardiac arrest, a claim Palestinians deny.
On February 24, the Palestinian Authority's Minister for Prisoners' Affairs Issa Qaraqea revealed that he had been tortured before his death.
The Palestinian minister said Jaradat's autopsy showed torture that caused fractures in his body and skull, while his heart was in good condition.
More than 4,500 Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli prisons, many of them without charge or trial.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Ninety-seven Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar have died of hunger after being stranded at sea for 25 days.
According to AFP, thirty three Muslim immigrants who were rescued off the coast of Sri Lanka last week said that they were on a boat heading to Malaysia when Thailand navy forces intercepted them and took the boat’s engine.
The survivors said they were left floating at sea for 25 days without water and food when Sri Lanka’s navy finally rescued them last Saturday about 250 miles off the country’s east coast, while the boat began sinking.
The survivors, 32 men and a boy, were taken to an immigration detention centre near Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, while suffering from serious dehydration.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugee voiced concern over the increasing number of Rohingya deaths at sea. The international body also urged Myanmar government to “promote reconciliation and economic development in Rakhine state, pursue practical measures to ensure basic rights so that the Rohingya can lead normal lives where they are, and grant them access to citizenship.”-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Mahmoud Sarsak is a footballer and former prisoner who was released to Gaza on 10 July 2012 after refusing food for 90 days.
The Electronic Intifada met with 25-year-old Sarsak in Rafah, where he now lives with his family.
Trying to lead a normal life, Mahmoud now divides his time between home, friends and the sports ground of Rafah Services Club. He began playing his favorite sports there, until he was nominated in 2009 to train with the Palestinian national football team in the West Bank.
That Israeli occupation forces arrested him while he was en route to the West Bank that year.
This month Sarsak participated in a football match between two local teams. “I performed very well. It was such a great experience for me following years of absence from the playgrounds of Gaza,” he said.
Sarsak announced his hunger strike at the Israeli prison in the Naqab desert on 15 March 2012.
This move came after almost three years in jail with no charges under Israel’s “unlawful combatant” law; Sarsak’s lawyer told The Electronic Intifada last year that Sarsak was believed to be the only Palestinian detained under the law.
Sarsak says the hunger strike has changed his life. “Since I had been arrested by Israel on the Erez checkpoint in northern Gaza, Israeli authorities had no specific charges against me,” he said, and his detention orders were repeatedly extended.
“Meanwhile, my determination to attain my freedom grew more and more, especially after I had realized that my dignity as a human being had been hijacked by the Israelis. Quite simply, the question for me was: To be or not to be,” Sarsak said.
Sarsak said that during imprisonment, he experienced maltreatment at the prison. He explained that being a prisoner with no charges is in itself a form of repression and injustice.
“Every dawn, around 4am, the wardens would forcibly wake up everyone for a routine count. Then, only three hours later, they would do the same thing,” he said. They also used to crack down on prisoners for trivial reasons.
“This treatment made me determined to regain my hijacked dignity. It was the night of 15 March 2012, when I prayed to God and decided to begin a hunger strike,” Sarsak recalled.
Sarsak’s hunger strike lasted 90 days, but he was not aware of how much solidarity activity was taking place outside the prison. Reports suggested that Sarsak’s health was getting worse, until the Israeli prison authorities finally agreed to free him. His release came about two weeks before the start of the month of Ramadan.
After the release
About eight days after Sarsak’s release, he received treatment aboard, as doctors suspected he had a liver problem contracted inside jail.
“From 18 June until 10 July 2012, Israeli prison authorities kept me under medical observation after I stopped my hunger strike, reaching an agreement with my lawyers and the prison authorities to release me that particular day in July. By then, I remember that Israeli doctors injected some blood into me,” Sarsak said.
After further illness, doctors in Gaza decided to transfer him to Egypt for treatment. “Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Authority’s football federation, called me to offer treatment at a public Egyptian hospital,” he said. Sarsak refused because of safety concerns.
Sarsak soon received an invitation from the Qatari football federation which offered him medical care at Amada hospital in Qatar.
Sarsak has now recovered, and his health is stable after treatment in Qatar. After his return to Gaza, he received another invitation from the African Club, a Tunisian football team. For two and a half months Sarsak had some great times in Tunis.
“I came back from Tunis only two weeks ago,” he said. “Over there, I managed to get some good training for a month on a daily basis, thanks to our Tunisian brothers. I also took part in some local Tunisian conferences on the issue of Palestinian prisoners and I spoke to the public,” he said.
“Our Arab brothers and sisters are active around our Palestinian concerns, especially the prisoners issue,” Sarsak added.
Sarsak also said that he will soon visit Europe.
The prisoners movement
Sarsak now spends most of his participating in local organizing in solidarity with political prisoners. His activity is not related to any political party or prisoners organization in Gaza and is done independently. He has recently taken part in a media campaign that aims to expose the impact of Israel’s policies on Palestinian sports.
“As Israel is due to host a major international football championship for junior players in May, myself and many other prisoner solidarity activists as well as the BDS [boycott divestment and sanctions] campaign, of which I am a member, have begun collecting all information and images available about the Israeli army’s actions against Palestinian sports,” he said.
“I wish that Palestine would have been chosen to host such a championship and this would have constituted a real solidarity with the people of Palestine in general, and Palestinian sportsmen in particular,” Sarsak lamented.
Last November, Israeli warplanes bombarded a major sports stadium in Gaza.
The internal Palestinian situation
Asked how he see the state of the prisoners movement in the occupied Gaza Strip, Sarsak expressed disappointment: “Unfortunately, what I see is saddening me a bit, as each political party is only concerned about prisoners who belong to them.”
“I cannot find any collective activity dedicated to all prisoners irrespective [of affiliation],” he said. “The current political split between Hamas and Fatah has affected this widely. However, by means of our continued campaigning even on an individual basis, the prisoners issue will remain at the top of our priorities. We will keep up our struggle until all prisoners attain their freedoms.”
Sarsak also said that the general sporting situation in Gaza is quite bad due to number of factors.
“I cannot see real sporting activity in the Gaza Strip,” he explained. “For one, the Hamas-Fatah political split has divided the sports community. For example, when Hamas took over Gaza, it wrestled control over many sports clubs that belonged to other political parties including Fatah.”
“Israel’s frequent attacks on the occupied Gaza Strip, including the recent attack on a major sport’s club as well as the ongoing Israeli blockade of the territory, have badly impacted sports activities too,” he said. “We just hope that both parties, Hamas and Fatah, would reconcile and help rehabilitate sporting life here.”
Sarsak hopes he will be able to live a normal life among his family and friends. He looks forward to getting a job — several official sports bodies have promised him one since he was released from prison.
“I wish to have a partner in future and start my own family but this depends on a stable economic condition. So far, I have not gotten the job promised by concerned authorities within the PA,” he said.
“Before I was released I used to get a $350 stipend in jail, but since I have been freed I no longer receive such an amount,” Sarsak added. “I rely on my family’s income from the vegetable and fruit trade here in Rafah.”-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –The general secretariat of the Arab League called on the UN and the UN Higher Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently intervene to secure the release of detained Palestinian hunger strikers.
The secretariat, in two messages to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the High Commissioner Navi Pillay, asked for international action demanding the release of Samer Al-Issawi and his colleagues, who have been on hunger strike for more than 200 days.
Nabil Al-Arabi, the League’s Secretary General, described the international silence vis-à-vis such an issue as “unacceptable”.
He said that such a position only encourages Israel to go ahead in its violation of the international human rights principles.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – It is mentioned in traditions that the people of hell will be given the punishment of hunger so that they will willy-nilly eat the fruit of the Zaqqoom. Thereafter they will be made to taste the chastisement of thirst so they may drink more and more from Hameem (boiling hell water) :
Like those who abide in the fire and who are made to drink boiling water so it rends their bowels asunder. (47:15)
That water will be so hot that it will tear their intestines into bits. It is related that if a drop of that water be put on a mountain (in this world), it will be reduced to dust.
And drink as drinks the thirsty camel. (56:55)
They will drink that water like a camel who is thirsty for many days, and drinks whilst shivering. 'Heem' (the water referred to in this verse) is the plural of 'Aheem' which means a camel suffering from a disease. This disease is equivalent to dropsy, which usually happens to a camel, in which it keeps drinking water but is not satiated until it dies. this will be the state of the dwellers of hell.
This is their entertainment on the day of requital. (56:56)
This 'Zaqqoom' and 'Hameem' will be given to them in Qiyamat as an introduction to Allah's wrath. And whatever is destined in hell (for the disbelievers) is far more harsh and beyond description.
Adapted from the book: "The Hereafter (Ma'aad)" by: "Ayatullah Dastghaib Shiraazi"