The following call to action was distributed by the National Lawyers Guild in the United States. Its Palestine Subcommittee sent this letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro:
The National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee urges the immediate release of hunger-striking Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq, held in Israeli administrative detention without charge or trial. Al-Qeeq has now been on hunger strike for 85 days and is in extremely critical condition; he has lost consciousness on multiple occasions, has lost his ability to speak and most of his hearing. He is at risk of multiple organ failure at any time.
Al-Qeeq, 33, is a correspondent for Al-Majd TV. He was arrested on November 21, 2015 and subjected to stress positions and verbal abuse under lengthy interrogationsthat constitute cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment amounting to torture. He originally began his hunger strike in protest of torture; he continued the strike when he was ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial, confirmed by the Ofer Israeli military court on December 24, 2015.
Al-Qeeq is one of over 670 Palestinians held under administrative detention without charge or trial, on the basis of secret evidence. Under international human rights law, administrative detention can only be used on a case-by-case basis for “imperative reasons of security.” Israel’s systematic use of administrative detention, under which approximately 10% of current Palestinian prisoners are currently held, violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Al-Qeeq’s administrative detention was presumably “suspended” by the Israeli High Court on February 4; he continued his hunger strike as this suspension did not free him or address his opposition to being held in administrative detention without charge or trial.
Yesterday, February 16, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected al-Qeeq’s petition to be moved to a Palestinian hospital in Ramallah, where he would accept treatment, which indicates once again that he clearly remains a prisoner held without charge and without trial, in an increasingly severe health crisis.
We emphasize that Israel bears the full responsibility for the life and health of Al-Qeeq by continuing to hold him without charge or trial under administrative detention and refusing to release him or even to transfer him to a Palestinian hospital in the West Bank.
Al-Qeeq is also threatened by the danger of forced feeding and forced treatment. While Al-Qeeq has not yet been forcibly fed and has signed a statement rejecting all medical treatment, he remains threatened by the practice, which was legalized in July 2015 by the “Law to Prevent Harm Caused by Hunger Strikers.” Forced feeding is rejected by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Medical Association and the World Health Organization, and is a form of torture – one that is also used by the United States at Guantanamo Bay.
Al-Qeeq has been forcibly treated twice since he was moved to HaEmek Hospital in Afula on December 30, 2015. As noted by Addameer, the Palestinian human rights organization, “forced treatment…and coerced medical examinations are a breach of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as it constitutes an act that contravenes the human dignity of detainees and prisoners.”
The NLG Palestine Subcommittee urges the immediate release of Mohammed Al-Qeeq from administrative detention and reiterates the call of its 2014 delegation to Palestine to immediately end the practice of administrative detention. (Read the full report here.)
Furthermore, the NLG calls for the overturn of the “Law to Prevent Harm Caused by Hunger Strikers,” legalizing force-feeding, and also reiterates its demand that the U.S. government end its use of force-feeding and hold those responsible for the torture of detainees accountable. We also reiterate our call for the U.S. government to end its aid to Israel due to its gross and systemic violations of Palestinian human rights, ongoing occupation of Palestinian land, and racist, apartheid structure.
The NLG Palestine Subcommittee urges members and supporters to contact the White House and demand Al-Qeeq’s freedom, and contact your member of Congress and urge them to cut off U.S. aid to Israel because of its practices of administrative detention and torture.
Please call the White House (001-202-456-1111) now and tell Barack Obama to demand that Israel immediately free Mohammed Al-Qeeq.
You can find the telephone, fax and web contact information for your member of Congress at contactingthecongress.org. When calling your member of Congress, please keep the following points in mind:
- · Mohammed Al-Qeeq is held without charge or trial. He is one of approximately 670 Palestinians facing this violation of his rights today.
- · Force feeding, when practiced by the US or by Israel, is a form of inhumane and degrading treatment amounting to torture.
- · US aid to Israel directly funds the Israeli military responsible for the imprisonment of Al-Qeeq and the use of administrative detention.
- · The US should end its aid to Israel, because Israel is responsible for gross and systematic violations of Palestinian human rights, in this case through the policy of administrative detention.
Download the NLG letter to the U.S. State Department (click here)