As We Prepare To Embark Upon Our First Friday Fast…

…there is news from Israel, via Addameer, an organization dedicated to Palestinian prisoners’ human rights:

Update: Situation of Long-Term Hunger Strikers Becomes Increasingly Urgent

Ramallah, 10 May 2012 – Addameer lawyer Mona Neddaf visited four hunger strikers in Ramleh prison medical clinic today, including Thaer Halahleh, now on his 73rd day of hunger strike.

According to Ms. Neddaf, Thaer’s condition continues to deteriorate. The prison doctor has said to Thaer that he could die at any moment.  Thaer has lost significant weight, and now weighs 55 kg. He has exceedingly low blood pressure and his temperature is fluctuating at dangerous levels. In addition to vomiting blood, Thaer is also bleeding from his gums and lips. The prison doctor also told him that he now has an infection in part of his body. Thaer is drinking water, but not taking any vitamins or minerals. Though he is very weak, Ms. Neddaf reported that mentally he is still strong. Thaer was supposed to receive a visit from his family today, but the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) cancelled the visit yesterday.
 
The health of Mohammad Taj, now on his 54th day of hunger strike, is also at a dangerous level. In addition, Jaafar Azzedine, on his 50th day of hunger strike, reported that he had stopped drinking water for a short period but has started to drink again, with minerals and vitamins. Nidal Shehadeh, who began his hunger strike on 17 April as part of the mass hunger strike, was moved back from a public hospital to Ramleh prison two days prior. He is on hunger strike in protest of receiving inadequate medical treatment while in prison.
 
Ms. Neddaf noted that all the prisoners on hunger strike in Ramleh prison are in isolated rooms. She further reported that they continue to be threatened by the IPS. Even at this stage of hunger strike, they have been told that if they do not stand for the “daily count”, they will not be permitted lawyer visits.
 
Addameer fears for the lives of Thaer, Bilal Diab, also on his 73rd day of hunger strike, Hassan Safadi, who is now on his 67th day of hunger strike, Omar Abu Shalal, who is now on his 65th day of hunger strike, and all the other prisoners on hunger strike whose critical conditions are being blatantly disregarded by Israel and the prison authorities. Addameer reiterates its call for immediate action on behalf of the hunger strikers.

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We want to thank you all who join us in this fast.  It is such a small thing, and yet it is a great thing, one that so few in this well-fed country will ever do for any reason.   Your willingness to suffer just a little is seen and appreciated and honored.  Just as you see and appreciate and honor those whose suffering in this regard is much greater and is accompanied by risk of the highest level.

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On the eve of this first fast, there are five of us: one in Massachusetts, one in New York, and three in California.  This sounds minimal, and we had certainly hoped for more, but the level of ignorance and denial about this situation is high; people have no news of it in this country and thus have not cultivated the feelings that lead one to this small sacrifice.  Spread the word about what you are doing and have done, and next Friday we will be a stronger, larger group.

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On a more mundane note, we will be curious to hear what each of you decided to do, in terms of the length of your fast, what you chose to drink or not, and any strategies you tried to help you get through the day.   One of our fasters is going to drink water enhanced with lemon juice and maple syrup to avoid low blood sugar problems. Please send us news of how it went for you, what you learned and how you will do it differently, if at all, next Friday.

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Again, our sincere gratitude and appreciation to you who will forgo food tomorrow.

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Domenica and Elizabeth
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