Dear Friends and Comrades,
Below this email is a moving and heartbreaking letter by the Palestinian political prisoner on hunger strike, Thaer Halahleh, to his two-year old daughter. Here is an extract:
"My Beloved Lamar, forgive me…despite the fact that I was deprived from holding you and hearing your voice...and that I was deprived of my role as a father with my daughter, your existence has given me all the power and hope. Lamar my love: I know that you don’t yet understand why your father is going through this battle of hunger strike for the 75th day, but when you grow up you will understand that the battle of freedom is the battle of going back to you, so that I can never be taken away from you again or to be deprived of your smile or seeing you, so that the occupier will never kidnap me again from you.” (Find the full letter below or here: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/linah-alsaafin/thaer-halahlehs-letter-his-daughter-my-beloved-lamarforgive-me)
On the seventy-third day of his hunger strike, Thaer Halahleh, was vomiting blood and bleeding from his lips and gums, while his body has been reduced to a mere 54 Kilograms. Halahleh, together with thousands of other Palestinians are being held under Israel's notorious "Administrative Detention" (equivalent to Apartheid South Africa's "Detention Without Trial"
). In an extraordinary act of collective nonviolent resistance, more than 2500 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike on 17 April 2012. The hunger strike (named ‘the battle of empty stomachs’) is a protest against Israel's unjust arrest procedures, arbitrary detention, abusive interrogation and inhuman prison conditions.
Thaer Halahleh is currently on the 75th day of his hunger strike. According to the British Medical Association, death generally occurs between day 55 and 75 of a hunger strike. Time is running out. Here are some ways we can support Thaer Halahleh and other Palestinian political prisoners:
1. Demand action by the South African government:
South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) is yet to publicly pledge solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners currently on hunger strike. South Africans are all too familiar with the practice of "detention without trial" and DIRCO needs to come out clear and resolute condemning Israel's use of this unfair and inhumane practice. Write to DIRCO demanding immediate action and intervention at a diplomatic level: Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Private Bag X152, Pretoria, 0001(or via email, email@example.com
). South Africa's President and his Deputy (two former Robben Island prisoners) also need to speak out decisively against this injustice. Indeed, the South African President's spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, himself endured unbelievable torture and incarceration in Apartheid South Africa's prisons. Send an email to Mac Maharaj calling on him and the Presidency to act: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Join the 24 Hour Fast on Thursday, 17 May
An international call has been made to people of conscience and goodwill worldwide (Palestinians, Israelis, South Africans and others) to show solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike by holding a fast and protests on Thursday, the 17th of May. Join in, encourage others, let organizers know (click here
) and use the #PalHunger hastag
on social media.
3. Write in and call the media
Write in to the newspapers, TV channels and radio stations enquiring why this massive Palestinian hunger-strike (arguably the world's largest such strike, ever) is not being adequately covered. Professor Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, has commented on the the media's lukewarm coverage: "Can anyone doubt that if there were more than 1300 hunger strikers in any country in the world other than Palestine... [the media] would be obsessed with the story? It would be featured day after day, and reported on from all angles, including the severe medical risks associated with such a lengthy refusal to take food." Find Falk's full article here: http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/the-massive-palestinian-hunger-strike-traveling-below-the-western-radar/
4. Boycott Israel's prison supplier, G4S
The current hunger-strike by Palestinian political prisoners reminds us of the South African hunger-strikes of 1989 that ushered in a new phase in our anti-apartheid struggle for freedom and a single, democratic country for all our people. The same, undoubtedly, now lies ahead for Palestinians...
BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS in SOUTH AFRICA (BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
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"My Beloved Lamar…Forgive me"
- by Thaer Halahleh to his two year old daughter, on the 75th day of his hunger strike
My Beloved Lamar, forgive me because the occupation took me away from you, and took away from me the pleasure of witnessing my firstborn child that I have always prayed to God to see, to kiss, to be happy with.
It is not your fault; this is our destiny as Palestinian people to have our lives and the lives of our children taken away from us, to be apart from each other and to have a miserable life. Nothing is complete in our lives because of this unjust occupation that is lurking on every corner of our lives turning it into eeriness, a continuous pursuit and torture. Despite the fact that I was deprived from holding you and hearing your voice, from watching you grow up and move around in the house and in your bed, and that I was deprived of my role as a human and a father with my daughter, your existence has given me all the power and hope, and when I saw your picture with your mother in the sit-in tent, you were so calm staring in wonder at people, as if you were looking for your father, looking at my pictures that are hung inside the tent asking in silence why is my father not coming back. I felt that you are with me, in my sentiment and inside my mind, as if you are a part of my heartbeats, steadfast and the blood that flows in my veins, opening all doors for me spreading clear skies around me, and unleashing your free childish voice after this long silence.
Lamar my love: I know that you are not to be blamed and that you don’t yet understand why your father is going through this battle of hunger strike for the 75th day, but when you grow up you will understand that the battle of freedom is the battle of going back to you, so that I can never be taken away from you again or to be deprived of your smile or seeing you, so that the occupier will never kidnap me again from you.
When you grow up you will understand how injustice was brought upon your father and upon thousands of Palestinians whom the occupation has put in prisons and jail cells, shattering their lives and future for no reason other then their pursuit of freedom, dignity and independence. You will know that your father did not tolerate injustice and submission, and that he would never accept insult and compromise, and that he is going through a hunger strike to protest against the Jewish state that wants to turn us into humiliated slaves without any rights or patriotic dignity.
My beloved Lamar keep your head up always and be proud of your father, and thank everyone who supported me, who supported the prisoners in their struggle, and don’t be afraid for God is with us always, and God never lets down people who have faith and patience. We are righteous, and right will always prevail against injustice and wrong doers.
Lamar my love: that day will come, and I will make it up to you for everything, and tell you the whole story, and your days that will follow will be more beautiful, so let your days pass now and wear your prettiest clothes, run and then run again in the gardens of your long life, go forward and forward for nothing is behind you but the past, and this is your voice I hear all the time as a melody of freedom.