Hunger striker Hassan Safadi’s head violently slammed against cell door by prison guards

Joint Press Release, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel

Ramallah, 16 August 2012 – Palestinian hunger strikers Hassan Safadi and Samer Al-Barq continue to be severely mistreated by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), in the forms of physical brutality and psychological torture. Addameer, Al-Haq and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) express their utmost outrage at recent violent incidents that have left these already-weakened detainees on protracted hunger strikes with trauma and injury. Mr. Al-Barq is today on his 87th day of hunger strike, which he began only one week after his previous 30-day hunger strike ended; Mr. Safadi is today on his 57th day of hunger strike, which he also began shortly after the end of his previous 71-day hunger strike.

In a visit with Addameer lawyer Fares Ziad on 14 August, Mr. Safadi recounted the most recent violent incident, which had occurred the previous day. At approximately 9:00 am on 13 August, IPS guards entered the isolation room that Mr. Safadi shares with fellow administrative detainee Mr. Al-Barq in Ramleh prison medical clinic and announced their intentions to move the two hunger strikers to a room with other prisoners in the medical clinic who are not on hunger strike. Mr. Safadi and Mr. Al-Barq refused the transfer, as they considered it an attempt to further pressure them to break their hunger strikes by surrounding them with individuals who would be regularly eating in front of them.
After refusing to be moved, the Israeli prison guards attacked both Mr. Safadi and Mr. Al-Barq. During the attack, Mr. Safadi’s head was slammed against the iron door of the cell two times, causing him to fall to the ground, unconscious. Prison guards then dragged him through the hall to be seen by all the other prisoners. Later that night, at around 10:00 pm, Mr. Safadi and Mr. Al-Barq were taken to a new isolation room with no mattresses.
As a result of this cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, Mr. Safadi subsequently announced that he would no longer be drinking water, which had so far been his only sustenance throughout his hunger strike. To protest the IPS’s brutality, the other prisoners in Ramleh also began to return their meals.
Mr. Safadi and Mr. Al-Barq both remain on hunger strike in protest against their administrative detention orders being renewed following the conclusion of Palestinian prisoners’ mass hunger strike in May. Mr. Safadi had been explicitly included in the agreement ending the hunger strike and had been guaranteed his release following the expiration of his order at the time – a promise that was not kept. A final decision regarding Mr. Safadi’s extension has been consistently postponed by an Israeli military judge and has not been reached to date.
Two other Palestinian detainees in Israeli prison are also currently on hunger strike: Ayman Sharawna and Samer Al-Issawi, on days 47 and 16, respectively. Both detainees were former prisoners who were released in last October’s prisoner exchange deal and subsequently re-arrested. They are being held based on secret information and view their hunger strikes as their only tool to protest against their re-arrest.
Addameer, Al-Haq and PHR-I insist that the international community intervene with the relevant Israeli authorities and demand an immediate investigation into these and other condemnable acts taken against prisoners on hunger strike in attempts to break them.
Addameer, Al-Haq and PHR-I specifically call on:
  • the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Union to take action in the strongest manner possible to save the lives of the hunger strikers and prevent any future mistreatment;
  • European Parliament members to bring these cases to the attention of relevant Israeli authorities without delay and to send a fact-finding mission to examine the conditions of detention of Palestinians arbitrarily held in Israeli prisons;
  • High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention and all UN Member States to put immediate pressure on Israel to abide by international humanitarian and human rights law and end its policy of arbitrary detention, and to abide by the standard rules for the treatment of prisoners adopted in 1955, which set out what is generally accepted as being decent principle and practice in the treatment of prisoners.