RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Two days before a mass hunger strike led by Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi is set to launch in Israeli prisons, Barghouthi, who has been serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison since 2002, urged Palestinians everywhere to organize actions in solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian prisoners.
"We call upon our people to join demonstrations, rallies, sit-ins, and general strikes, as we urge (Palestinian) President Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), Palestinian leadership, and Palestinian factions to take steps at every level to free prisoners and support them in their battle," Barghouthi wrote in a statement conveyed to Ma’an by his wife Fadwa.
"About one million Palestinians have been detained, tortured, psychologically and physically humiliated, and subjected to demeaning and bitter conditions in the Bastilles of barbaric Zionist colonialism," Barghouthi said.
According to a joint statement
released Saturday by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
During the same period, according to the report, 210 Palestinian prisoners have died as a result “extrajudicial exterminations” or from “deliberate negligence under torture” in Israeli custody.
"More than 200 martyrs have died in prison over the course of a half century as a result of torture, murder, and deliberate medical negligence in prison cells," Barghouthi wrote.
The treatment of Palestinian prisoners has sparked dozens of protests and hunger strikes throughout the years, Barghouthi highlighted, as Israel has continued to detain “thousands of Palestinians every year in a flagrant violation of international treaties and conventions.”
He accused the Israeli judicial system -- which has 99.74 percent conviction rate for Palestinians
in West Bank military courts -- of being an "accomplice in the occupation's crimes through detentions, unjust court sentences, and torture," stressing that "prisoners are being tried by illegitimate courts that must be boycotted as tools of the occupation."
Barghouthi’s statement said that the last few years had witnessed an unprecedented increase in the detention of Palestinian political prisoners, marked by “more torture, increasingly demeaning measures, and more violations of prisoners’ rights and the rights of their family members.”
"We are launching this battle for freedom and dignity as part and parcel of our people's struggle," the statement added, highlighting that the month of April was chosen for the hunger strike for its significance as “the month of the Deir Yassin massacre
, (the deaths of) Abd al-Qadir al-Husseini and Abu Jihad (Khalil al-Wazir), and Palestinian Prisoner's Day."
The Fatah leader reiterated that the mass hunger strike was organized to defy the ongoing “tyrannical” policies used by Israeli authorities against Palestinians prisoners, among them “arbitrary detentions, torture, medical negligence, and the deprivation of family visits."
Prisoners’ rights group Addameer said in a statement
ahead of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, April 17, when the mass strike is set to launch, that, “Every day, Palestinian prisoners are on the front lines of struggle, facing torturous interrogation, nighttime raids, solitary confinement, and relentless attacks on their rights at the hands of Israeli occupation forces. Those attacks are aided by international and corporate complicity, support and profiteering.”
“Palestinian Prisoners’ Day is a critical time to stand against state and corporate complicity with Israeli imprisonment of Palestinian political prisoners.”