Palestinian protesters gathered in Ramallah on Saturday, 3 September to demand the release of six Palestinian youth held in the Palestinian Authority Beitunia prison. The six youth, Basil al-Araj, Haitham Siyaj, Mohammed Harb, Mohammed al-Salameen, Seif al-Idrissi and Ali Dar al-Sheikh, have been imprisoned in PA prisons since March and early April 2016.
The six launched a hunger strike on 28 August to demand their immediate release from PA prisons. Their detention has been repeatedly extended with no charges against them, while Palestinian Authority officials have boasted publicly about the importance of their “security coordination” with the Israeli occupation, in protecting the security of the occupier.
Dozens gathered outside the Muqata’, the Palestinian Authority presidential compound, to call for the release of the six, while police blared sirens to block their chants.
Protests also took place on 3 September in Rabat, Morocco; Tunis, Tunisia; and Beddawi refugee camp in Lebanon, all highlighting the case of the six hunger strikers and demanding their immediate release and an end to security coordination with the Israeli occupation.
The families of the six detained youth issued a statement urging action to free them:
Our children have been and are detained in inhumane conditions
We are the families of six Palestinian youth arrested by the PA security services (Basil al-Araj, Mohammed Harb, Haitham Siyaj, Seif al-Idrissi, Mohammed al-Salameen, Ali Dar al-Sheikh), calling upon the conscience of Palestinian society as our children are struggling since the evening of 28 August 2016 in an open hunger strike. They are demanding their freedom from unjust arrest; their arrest in April is without any legal justification.
In the first period of their detention, our children were subject to cruel methods of torture at the hands of Palestinian intelligence, causing harm to themselves and their bodies and requiring treatment on several occasions for the effects. Since their arrest until the date of this statement, the arrest of our sons has bee n extended repeatedly and arbitrarily by the Palestinian Authority courts without providing any indictment or charges against them. Our children are well-known to all for their strong morals and high patriotism, and some of them have experience in occupation prisons and have been detained on several occasions.
Today our six children are being held in inhumane conditions in Beitunia prison west of Ramallah. When our children announced they were taking this step of hunger strike, the prison administration escalated arbitrary punishments aainst them, including depriving us of family visits for us to check on them and their health, isolating them in tiny dirty cells lacking the minimum needs for human habitation, with nothing but a mattress provided only for the night with no blanket and withdrawn in the morning, in addition to a toilet inside the cell, adding further danger to their health.
We are the family of these detainees that today are screaming as the conscience of Palestinian society. Our children are facing the deterioration of their health as they conduct this strike and some of them already suffer from diseases that threaten their lives in the event of their continued hunger strike.
We want to preserve the lives of our children and protect them like all Palestinian families work to protect their children from any harm. Their ongoing continued detention threatens their future and their lives. So we call on all parties, official and unofficial, to work urgently for the release of our detained children. We hold the Palestinian security entities responsible in case of any consequences to their health or lives as a result of this hunger strike.
We call on the legal institutions and at the forefront, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, to work and pressure for the release of our children as soon aspossible. We also call upon international institutions to act immediately in order to secure their release.
Every minute that passes for us, the family of the six hunger strikers, are minutes of hell and heartache, of constant worry and fear for our children. Nothing reassures our hearts but lawyers’ visits, which confirmed their drastic conditions.
Stand with us and our children!
Families of the six hunger strikers held in Beitunia prison.
Protesters will gather again outside Beitunia prison for a sit-in and press conference on Tuesday, 6 September.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network revives and renews its call for international solidarity with these six detained Palestinian youth, prisoners of security coordination. We urge that international voices be raised to demand the immediate release of these six youth on hunger strike an and end to the policies of security coordination that further threaten Palestinian life and freedom at the behest of the occupation.
1. It is critical that official Palestinian institutions hear from Palestinian communities in diaspora and exile and from friends of the Palestinian people in support of the six detained Palestinian youth.
We urge you to CALL the Palestinian Mission to the United Nations at +1 212 288-8500 and EMAIL the mission at email@example.com.
* Tell the mission that you are calling as a supporter of Palestine or as a Palestinian and your location, regarding the case of the six Palestinian youth detained in PA prison in the West Bank.
* Tell the mission that you are urging the immediate release of the six detained Palestinian youth who are currently on hunger strike in Beitunia prison.
* Tell the mission that PA security coordination with Israel only hurts the Palestinian people.
We also urge you to CALL the office of PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah at + 970 229 68989, or EMAIL the office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please emphasize the same points above and the importance of the immediate release of the six youth.
2. Sign and Share the Petition – Call on PA officials to immediately release the six Palestinian youth! This petition was launched upon their arrest in April. Please sign and share this petition and build international solidarity to free the six! Sign and share: https://www.change.org/p/palestinian-authority-free-six-young-palestinian-activists-from-political-detention