Shireen Issawi, imprisoned Palestinian lawyer and the sister of imprisoned Palestinian and former long-term hunger striker Samer Issawi, is joining her brother in a hunger strike in solidarity with Muhammad Allan, a fellow imprisoned Palestinian lawyer.
Allan is in a coma in Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon; he has been on hunger strike for 63 days protesting his imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention.
Issawi is launching her solidarity strike today, Monday 17 August. Samer launched his strike on Sunday, 16 August. Both are demanding Allan’s immediate release from administrative detention.
Shireen Issawi was arrested in March 2014 with other Palestinian lawyers; her trial in Israeli military court has been repeatedly delayed. She is charged with transferring information from Palestinian prisoners from “hostile parties,” as well as transferring money to prisoners from “prohibited organizations,” namely Palestinian political parties. Her trial has been repeatedly delayed for a year and a half.
In an interview with the Electronic Intifada, Issawi’s mother Layla noted that Shireen had not practiced as a lawyer for over three years; she had been prominent prior to her arrest as the international spokesperson for the campaign to free her brother Samer, whose 266-day hunger strike won his relase in December 2013. (Samer was re-arrested in June 2015 as part of the mass Israeli arrests in the West Bank following the capture of three settlers and has since had his original thirty-year sentence reimposed by a secret military tribunal. He had been released in the October 2011 prisoner exchange with Gilad Shalit.)
The charges against Issawi are violations of the rights of lawyers to represent their clients; they also attempt to criminalize support for prisoners from their political parties, as well as the communication of prisoners to the outside world. As she wrote in a letter from prison in 2014, “I am a lawyer, I have the right and duty to defend our prisoners. To stand for their rights is not unlawful. Although I have been busy recently focusing on completing my Masters thesis, they arrested me. The real reason for my arrest is that the occupation wants to intimidate lawyers from performing their duty in the service of our prisoners. They will not succeed, I dedicate my life for the cause of our prisoners and will not stop fighting for their freedom until all our prisoners are released.”