Give me liberty or give me death: The plight of Khader Adnan
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
Yet again, the international community looks on as another Palestinian suffers at the hand of the Israeli occupation. Khader Adnan, a 33-year-old Palestinian baker from Jenin has refused food for 66 days and counting. Unsurprisingly, only when his hunger strike reached 50 days did his plight receive some attention. According to the British Medical Association, death generally occurs between the 55th and 75th days of a hunger strike. His health, as expected, is deteriorating rapidly and yet with one arm and leg shackled to a hospital bed in Sieff Hospital in Israel and with prison guards watching him around the clock, he vows to continue.
Once again, the international community looks on as another Palestinian suffers at the hand of the Israeli occupation. Khader Adnan, a 33-year-old Palestinian baker from Jenin has refused food for 66 days and counting. Unsurprisingly, only when his hunger strike reached 50 days did his plight receive some attention. According to the British Medical Association, death generally occurs between the 55th and 75th days of a hunger strike. His health, as expected, is deteriorating rapidly and yet with one arm and leg shackled to a hospital bed in Sieff Hospital in Israel and with prison guards watching him around the clock, he vows to continue.
Adnan was arrested on December 17th, not for the first time, but the seventh. In 1999 he was held for 6 months without trial, in 2000 he spent another 8 months in administrative detention, between 2002-2003 he was arrested again, in 2004 he was detained, in 2005 he was detained for another 18 months and then another 6 months in 2008. In total he spent over 38 months in administrative detention, 3 years in and out of detainment - without charge. Shamelessly the PA also arrested him for 12 days in 2010.
Adnan was arrested in a early morning raid around 3am. His wife, Randa, explained that they bound and blindfolded him during which he promised her that his detention would be brief. After 18 days of interrogation, he was brought before a military court where his detention period was renewed, still without charge. He told his wife that the soldiers beat and kicked him on the floor of the Jeep they had taken him in as well as humiliating him during interrogation; cursing him, pulling his beard, slandering his wife as ‘impure’ and his daughters as not his. Within 24 hours he began his hunger strike.
His condition began to deteriorate within a week and recently he has also stopped drinking water. On the 15th of February after a long campaign by Physicians for Human Rights, he was examined by a member doctor who said the following:
“When I met the patient, he had been on hunger strike for 52 days, shackled to his bed by both legs and one arm, and was refusing to undergo tests and medical treatment. He has lost 30 kgs and weighs 60 kg. He suffers from stomach aches,vomiting, sometimes with blood, and headaches. As of today, he is completely lucid and aware of his medical condition, without confusion or disorders in cognition or perception. His general condition is pale and very weak, his tongue is smooth, he has slight bleeding from the gums, dry skin, loss of hair, and significant muscular atrophy. Mr. Adnan is in immediate danger of death. An absolute hunger strike in excess of 50 days causes the decomposition of muscles, including muscle of the heart and stomach, and the creation of toxins in the body. Death may occur suddenly, due to heart failure, or as the result of infection following the collapse of the immune system Bleeding in the digestive tracts andrenal or hepatic failure are possible. A fast in excess of 70 days does not permit survival.”
The Israeli Military Appeals Court dismissed the appeal against Adnan’s administrative detention order on the 13th February 2012. The detention will expire on the 8th of May. A report released by ADDAMEER (Prisoner support and Human Rights Association) said:
“Judge Moshe Tirosh stated that according to the secret material available to the judge but not available to Khader or his lawyers, the court decision was “balanced”. In his decision, Judge Tirosh completely disregarded Khader’s lawyers’ numerous arguments, including the lack of evidence that Khader Adnan has carried out any activities providing grounds for detention; that administrative detention is used in an arbitrary manner; and that affiliation to a political party is aligned with the right to freedom of expression, assembly and political association. Furthermore, Judge Tirosh stated that only Khader is to blame for his physical health condition as a result of his choice to continue his hunger strike and that his medical condition will not influence the administrative detention decision.”
Administrative Detention is a procedure under which detainees are held without charge or trial, based on the British law put in place under the British Mandate 1945 Law on ‘Authority in States of Emergency’. Israeli military commanders are permitted to detain an individual for up to 6 months on ‘reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention’. In practice however, this is invalid. Usually on or just before the expiry date, the detention order is renewed another 6 months. This process can and often is continued indefinitely. Of all the men I had met in the West Bank last year who had been subject to this procedure, none of them had been detained for less than 5 years. All Palestinian men at some point in their lives are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention.
Administrative Detention has more often than not been used as a form of collective punishment by the Israeli military against Palestinians, in violation of international law. For example, during the period of March 2002 – October 2002, Israeli forces arrested over 15,000 Palestinians during a campaign of mass arrests, rounding up males between the ages of 15 to 45 from various cities and villages. In October 2002, there were 1,050 Palestinians in administrative detention. By the beginning of March 2003, Israel held more than one thousand Palestinians in administrative detention. In 2007, Israel held a monthly average of 830 administrative detainees, which was 100 higher than in 2006. Furthermore, during the PLC elections of 2006, Israel placed dozens of candidates from the Islamic Change and Reform Party in administrative detention. Some of them remain imprisoned to this day. Currently, there are between 307 and 315 Palestinians being held in administrative detention.
Khader Adnan, for the Orientalist, isn’t the Palestinian Ghandi for whom they keep mindlessly calling. They forget, perhaps deliberately, that under the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and under the stipulation of International Law, occupation, colonialism and apartheid are illegal. Under the same laws, resistance, including armed resistance against legitimate targets of the uniformed members of the regimes outlined above, are legal.
I am, without a doubt, against the notion of comparing Palestinians to former leaders of non violent resistance. The first Palestinian intifada started with a non-violent general strike. Palestinians practice non-violent resistance everyday under the given circumstances and Adnan’s ongoing hunger strike is a non-violent protest. He is drawing attention to the decades of administrative detention by Israel which throws Palestinians into their dungeons to torture, humiliate, psychologically torment, and supress the resistance against them. Israeli prisons are attempts to dissolve the Palestinian right of resistance against years of occupation and colonialism.
I hate to be cynical, but Khader Adnan is a potential candidate for death. He knew this before he refused his first prison meal. He understood that being the native gives him one choice between servitude and supremacy. He will not die, but rather he will be killed and he is sure of it. It is incredibly difficult to imagine oneself as a man without food for 63 days, but it should not be too difficult to imagine what he means when he says his ‘dignity is more precious than food’.
You may be wondering why the Israeli authorities aren’t discussing a release or retrial. Just like the death of Mustafa Tamimi, Ibrahim Mohammad Ali Saidi, Mohammed al-Dura, and the thousands of other Palestinians slaughtered in the struggle for self-determination, Israel will not be held accountable. And neither will it ignite a third intifada as some suggest. The Palestinian struggle will very likely gain another martyr, let us at least ensure his martyrdom is not in vain.
Sign the Amnesty International Petition for Khader Adnan and all Palestinian prisoners subject to Israel’s administrative detention here.
The following twitter hashtags are being used to highlight Khader’s plight: #KhaderExists, #Dying2Live, #hungry4justice, #KhaderIsAlive, #Khader61days, #Respect4Khader, #Khader62 and #HungerStrike63days.
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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