The HRA Sagers Solidarity Hunger Strike In Support Of Palestinian Political Prisoners
August 26, 2004
On Wednesday August 25, 2004, the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) staged a day-long hunger strike to express solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners who are engaged in an ongoing hunger strike to protest the poor conditions inside Israeli jails. The event lasted from nine o’clock in the morning until seven in the evening at a protest tent set up next to Mary’s Well in Nazareth. An estimated total of 700 persons visited the tent throughout the course of the day, and there was an average of sixty participants present at any one time.
A delegation from Nazareth Municipality which included the mayor came to show support for the prisoners as well as representatives from all of the political parties active in Nazareth, including delegations from Ibna’ al-Balad, Jabha, the Arab Democratic Party, Tajamu’, and the Islamic Movement. Additionally, the Head of the High Follow-Up Committee on Arab Affairs, Shawki Khatib, addressed those gathered in the protest tent and held an impromptu question-answer session on issues concerning the Arab minority inside Israel. Many of those who took part in the solidarity hunger strike were from the legal profession, and an HRA board member, attorney Salim Wakim, told the gathering about his impressions from a recent trip to visit an inmate in Shatta prison.
An open microphone was made available for anyone who wished to speak to the assembly, and one woman whose fifteen-year-old son is among the prisoners shared poetry that she had written about her painful experience. Several of the families of prisoners took part in the solidarity hunger strike. The HRA considers their participation in the event to have added weight and meaning to the act of solidarity.
A local television channel, Tevel, and the international station al-Jazeera interviewed the family members of the prisoners and the HRA’s Director, Muhammad Zeidan. Journalists from all of the Arab media were also present to cover the event. Other groups that joined in the solidarity hunger strike included a singing group from Britany, France and the local organization of Democratic Women. Many other participants came as individuals to show their support for the striking prisoners and to protest the human-rights violations going on in Israeli jails.