On Wednesday morning, 3 February 2016, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) organized an activity in solidarity with journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq, the administrative detainee on hunger strike, at the Commodore Hotel in Gaza City. The activity was held while al-Qeeq has been enduring his open hunger strike for 70 consecutive days and the resultant health deterioration amidst Israeli relentless attempts to force-feed him again. It should be noted that Israeli forces force-fed al-Qeeq in the past days in violation of his right not to be tortured or degradingly treated, and in a manner jeopardizing his life.
The activity was opened by Dr. Riyadh al-Za’noun, Chairman of PCHR’s Board of Directors, who highlighted that al-Qeeq had started this open hunger strike because he experienced unbearable oppression and injustice during the administrative detention period. Al-Za’noun pointed out that the administrative detention under which al-Qeeq is placed is in itself a war crime and a detention of the freedom of speech that is legalized by the Israeli courts although al-Qeeq’s life is at stake. All of this happens while the whole world is watching but doing nothing.
Mr. Yasser Saleh, representative of the Prisoners’ Committee of Islamic and National Factions, delivered a speech in which he stressed that al-Qeeq is a free person, who pledged himself to expose the daily violations committed against the Palestinian people to the world. Saleh added that Israeli forces by detaining al-Qeeq aimed at targeting and silencing media personnel and confronting the freedom of expression. He further said that al-Qeeq was resisting the Israeli occupation when he was outside prison by performing his duties as a journalist, while he is resisting the occupation inside with his hunger and empty stomach. Saleh underscored is also trying to put an end to the administrative detention policy that can be applied against any of those practicing the freedom of opinion and expression in spite of his deteriorating health condition that resulted in speaking and hearing loss and a blurry vision.
Mr. Emad al-Efranji, Director of the Palestinian Journalists’ Forum, said that Israeli occupation is the reason behind the suffering of the Palestinian people for tens of years; the Israeli occupation that uprooted the Palestinian people and occupied their land. Al-Efranji further said that Israeli forces arrest journalists to conceal the truth by killing and arresting them or confiscating their equipment. He added that the Israeli forces always accuse journalists of “media incitement”. Al-Efranji highlighted that the Palestinian journalists are known for their devotion at work and annoying the Israeli occupation with pens and cameras, therefore, they are accused of such an accusation.
Moreover, lawyer Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, confirmed that we cannot talk about Justice and law under the Israeli occupation, and everyone who thinks that Israel respects human and public rights is misguided, because Israel is the opposite of justice, human rights and freedom of expression. Al-Sourani pointed out that the Israeli military courts from the beginning of the occupation have never been applied justice or law; they rather practice the law of the jungle because all the military orders violate the law, justice and human rights. Furthermore, Sourani added that al-Qeeq won his battle from the first moment of his hunger strike, clarifying that freedom and dignity reflect a state of moral, humanitarian and cultural superiority towards the barbaric practices of the Israeli occupation. In addition, he underscored that everyone who was involved in the force-feeding crime against al-Qeeq, including legislators and doctors, who were directly involved in this crime, will be prosecuted.
Journalist Fayhaa Shalash, al-Qeeq’s wife, emphasized via phone from Ramallah that her husband has been on hunger strike drinking only water but without any dietary supplements. In addition, she said that Israeli forces prevent family visits to him and he is still handcuffed in spite of his presence at the hospital. She pointed out that she and his family do not know anything about his heath; they only know about him from the news. Moreover, Shalash underscored that her husband refuses any deals with the Israeli occupation and his only demand is freedom.
At the end of the activity, the participants delivered speeches in which they called for conjugating efforts to support al-Qeeq and all Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails.