Chicago – Photos and Report: Emergency Vigil for Palestinian Hunger Strikers

Report and photos by Christine Geovanis. For high-res photos, go to

chicago16Community groups from across Chicago’s Palestinian, Arab and Muslim communities came together Friday evening, June 13, with human rights supporters at an emergency candlelight vigil to support over 100 Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails.

The hunger strike — a number of whose members are hovering near death — has begun to spark a political firestorm that could parallel that of Irish hunger strikers in 1981, when Bobby Sands and nine other Irish political prisoners died in an effort to push back against British political repression. The Palestinian hunger strikers are demanding an end to the Israeli practice of administrative detention — holding prisoners without charge or trial indefinitely, and often including torture — plus an end to solitary confinement, an end to storming of cells, the lifting of all restrictions on family visits, improved medical care, and an end to relatives being humiliated at checkpoints while journeying to and from visits.

The hunger strike began on April 24, when 90 detainees began refusing food in protest of their continued imprisonment. The hunger strike has escalated as more prisoners have joined, including the youngest hunger striker, 19-year-old Ahmad Rimawi.