Abu Aker refuses water, says battle has entered new stage: “Bring our coffins or release us”


Palestinian journalist Nidal Abu Aker, held in administrative detention in Israeli jails without charge or trial and on hunger strike for 37 days, is refusing to drink water in protest of his continued solitary confinement in the Israeli criminal prisoners’ section of Asqelan prison, reported Palestinian lawyer Karim Ajwa on 25 September. Click here for the Urgent Call to Action to support their strike.

Abu Aker, the host of a radio program that deals with prisoners affairs on Voice of Unity radio station broadcast from Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, is on strike with 15 other Palestinian political prisoners in “The Battle of Breaking the Chains,” which he, Shadi Ma’ali, Ghassan Zawahreh, Munir Abu Sharar and Badr al-Ruzza launched on 20 August. The strike is demanding the end of administrative detention, the Israeli practice – continued from a British colonial law – of imprisoning Palestinians without charge or trial for indefinitely renewable periods on secret evidence, and the freedom of all administrative detainees.

This comes as the Handala Center for Prisoners and Released Prisoners stated that the Israeli Prison Services management has decided to transfer the striking administrative detainees to Soroka Hospital early next week as a result of the poor health conditions of the strikers. This comes after stated refusals to several Palestinian hunger strikers, including Badr al-Ruzza and Suleiman Skafi, participating in the “Battle of Breaking the Chains” demanding the end of administrative detention, that they would not be moved to a hospital.

Handala Center noted that the prison administration had delayed extensively in sending them to hospital despite their deteriorating health as a means of pressuring them to end the strike, holding them in isolation and unsanitary conditions, and continuously transferring them via “Bosta,” producing extreme physical and psychological stress.

Abu Aker issued a letter on his refusal to drink water, published by Al-Mayadeen Arabic satellite channel:

From inside my dark, dreary, small cell, that is very similar to a grave, where my bed touches the walls from both sides, I stress that this narrow cell will not narrow my will. My will is spacious and my spirits are high, drawn from the support of my family and our people, as well as the justice of our cause. Here I am addressing you on the first day of Eid al-Adha, and I began to stop drinking water in protest of my confinement in this cell and to demand my transfer to another place.

I look at the military court’s recent decision [to reaffirm Abu Aker’s administrative detention while providing ‘assurance in principle’ that this will be his last detention renewal] as part and parcel of the injustice of this policy, and which emphasizes remaining in administrative detention, and does not provide for our release as administrative detainees. Our battle is not aimed at individual salvation, but a radical and collective solution to the problem of administrative detention. We especially seek a collective solution, at minimum for the administrative detainees on hunger strike.

We are now on the threshold of the third phase of the Battle of Breaking the Chains, which will be the slogan, “Bring our coffins or release us.” This requires a higher level of popular, national and institutional action in support of our demands and our cause: abolishing the policy of administrative detention, compensate administrative detainees for their material and moral losses suffered as a result of this policy, demand the formation of an international committee with the mission of judicial review of the “secret files” of administrative detainees.

This requires the announcement of a major national campaign demanding an end to the policy of administrative detention, official intervention and action from major countries and members of the Security Council of the United Nations, and for countries that have diplomatic relations with Israel to exercise their full efforts to pressure the occupation, as well as international institutions, led by the United Nations, human rights organizations including Amnesty International, and the international boycott movement, to expose the policy of administrative detention and escalate to the highest level the pressure on the occupation to bring it to an end.

Especially to the administrative detainees, we appeal to them not to be deceived by false promises and instead to engage in the strike and to boycott the military courts. We also call on all Palestinian national forces to appeal to their supporters in administrative detention to engage in these steps. And for the High Commission for Prisoners Affairs in the West Bank and Gaza, and all advocacy committees in the diaspora, to play their role of support and do what is necessary to expose the policy of administrative detention and gather the largest possible number of supporters for our just cause.

We also call on our people in the 1948 Occupied Territories, especially the Higher Follow-Up Committee, and senior members of the Knesset in the Joint List, in Palestinian municipalities and all institutions, to play their role in support of our cause.

While we appreciate the central role of the media, the Palestinian journalists’ syndicate and all institutions, popular and mass organizations, we look forward to further activating their role in the direction of supporting the cause of terminating the file of administrative detention, which is a tragedy for Palestinians, targeting our strugglers.

We have said from the beginning that we are fighting this battle to end the policy of administrative detention, and at the minimum to destabilize the pillars of the administrative detention policy. And we are carrying this out, exposed to all forms of injustice, and we are going into battle with honor and dignity and will not fail our people, and we will work to meet the dictates of our conscience and our national dity as Palestinians. So be sure, that we will remain faithful to the people of Palestine and to our people’s just cause. We will not let you down and this banner will not fall.

Best regards and my love,

Nidal Abu Aker.