Call for mass action in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners

2017-04-24 18:26
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation says they are starting a solidarity campaign in support of 1 500 Palestinian political prisoners on a hunger strike. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation says they are starting a solidarity campaign in support of 1 500 Palestinian political prisoners on a hunger strike. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

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Johannesburg - Civil society was on Monday urged to take part in mass action in support of Palestinian political prisoners who recently embarked on a hunger strike.

A series of activities would be held across South Africa in solidarity with the hunger strikers, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation executive director Neeshan Balton said at Constitution Hill.

He called for people worldwide to go on a global solidarity fast on May 3.

Over 1 500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israel started a hunger strike last Monday, in protest against conditions at prisons and detention centres.

Their demands include more contact with relatives, better medical treatment, an end to solitary confinement, to detentions without trial, and to abuse by prison guards.

Palestinian Prisoners Day

The strike is being led by Marwan Barghouti, a prominent resistance leader in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.

He is serving five life terms and several years in an Israeli jail for his role in a violent Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.

The start of the hunger strike coincided with Palestinian Prisoners Day.

"They are only allowed to see their families once a year. There is no right to education, no right to medical treatment. They are living in inhumane conditions," said Hassana Aldramly, an official at the Palestinian embassy in SA.

Many prisoners were not allowed to see their lawyers, and were often tortured or left in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time.

According to human rights statistics some 6 500 Palestinians, including 57 women prisoners and 300 children as young as 11, are currently being held in Israeli jails. More than 500 of those prisoners are being held under "administrative detention" - detention without trial.

"Over the past 50 years more than 800 000 Palestinians have been imprisoned by the Israeli State under many explicitly racist laws and administrative regulations," Rivonia trialist Dennis Goldberg said in a statement.

The solidarity action is supported by organisations including the National Coalition 4 Palestine, South African Jews for a Free Palestine, the Embassy of the State of Palestine, Ex Political Prisoners Association of South Africa, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, and religious organisations.

Read more on:    middle east peace

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