Qaanitah Hunter- Cii News- July 20, 2012
It is simple. Nothing is being done for Akram Rikhawi as he approaches 100 days of hunger striking and is on the verge of death. Last week Cii News spoke to the eldest daughter of Akram who lamented that no one seems to care about her father. She cited nonchalance from the various Palestinian ministers her family has approached for help. She was distraught. I asked why?
Having followed the Palestinian hunger strikes from its inception with Khader Adanan and subsequently, Hana Shalabi, I noticed that it united the Palestinian nation on all fronts. The ripple effect of which was a sturdy international campaign resulting in the amplification of what was a silent plea. Akram Rikhawi is a terrorist. Or so claims the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). That is why since the beginning of the Second Intifada in September 2000, the IOF had considered Akram as wanted for arrest. He is currently in the 8th year of his 9 year sentence.
Prisoner rights group, Addameer, noted that Akram began his hunger strike on 12 April in protest against his request for an early release not being granted despite his medical condition. Other hunger strikers were notably administrative detainees. This, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society, is the marked distinction between Akram and other hunger strikers and a point of difficulty for lawyers.
The organisation said they are doing for Akram what they did for all other Palestinian hunger strikers. According to head, Qadura Fares, they say they do not afford him special treatment but they are trying their best to negotiate with the Israeli prison authorities. “The difference regarding Akram is that he was arrested and sentenced by the Israeli Military court and not an administrative detainee,” he said.
It was explained that Akram is demanding freedom on the basis of his health. He suffers from many chronic conditions, including asthma, diabetes, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, kidney problems and immune deficiency. Reports indicate that he is given the wrong medication which then exacerbates his illnesses. Is this also not a violation of human rights?
He said that whatever option they offered the Israeli Prison Services was rejected. “We asked them to release him and he will go to Jordan or Lebanon but they refused,” Fares said. He mentioned other deals that his organisation put on the table for the sickly father of eight. “We can only do what we did for everyone else, make offers and negotiate,” he justified.
Addameer also said they haven’t been given access to the prisoner. They said their lawyers were not given access to him since July 5. “Independent doctors were also not given access to him,” they said. But they are still calling for his release via online platforms.
Regardless of the situation, the man is dying. The international community needs to create pressure as done in the cases of Khader, Hana and Mahmoud. A commune of whispers becomes a shout. We need to speak out lest we become an accomplice in his death on account of our silence.
Tags: Akram Rikhawi, Israel, Palestine, silence