Palestinian prisoners announce boycott of ICRC visits, protest campaign to restore family visits

icrc-nyc2Palestinian prisoners stated that next Thursday, 28 July, will be a collective day of rejection of visits with delegates representing the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), because of the ICRC’s action in reducing family visits for imprisoned Palestinian men from twice monthly to once monthly, reported the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society.

The rejection of visits will be accompanied by a collective return of meals for one day on 28th July. In their statement, the prisoners declared that the ICRC is supposed to play a humanitarian role in assisting people under occupation, noting that the organization has offered “unconvincing excuses and justifications,” even in response to offers to provide money to support a second visit per month. They also called for support actions in front of ICRC offices throughout occupied Palestine to support the protest.

The action comes after several prisoners engaged in a hunger strike in protest of the ICRC action, and prisoners in Megiddo prison refused to meet with ICRC representatives on 19 July, in protest of the cuts to family visits. This followed a similar boycott by prisoners in the Ramle prison clinic, and a self-organized family visit by prisoners’ families from Jerusalem.

Palestinians from the West Bank, who cannot visit their children and family members without special permits, do not even have the option to self-organize visits to their imprisoned loved ones. These permits are generally only obtained through the mediation of the ICRC and take months to process. The action by the ICRC comes alongside ongoing efforts by the Israeli occupation to cut down on family visits, including frequent denials of permits for visits on spurious “security” pretexts, denial of family visits as a “punishment” for protests inside the prisons, and repeated actions to ban family visits. It is a form of collective punishment of Palestinian families and suppression and isolation of the prisoners. Thus, Palestinian prisoners argue, the ICRC’s action is not due to budget cuts but fits precisely within Israeli policy of pressure and isolation towards the prisoners.

Samidoun has written to the ICRCand protested in New York City and elsewhere against the visit cuts.

Take Action!  Sign and share the petition to the International Committee of the Red Cross urging them to change this decision. Palestinian prisoners and their families need support – not yet more roadblocks in the way of family life and family connections!