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Palestinian & U.S. Prisoners Stage Hunger Strikes

StoryAugust 16, 2004
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Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have entered the second day of a hunger strike to protest conditions in Israeli jails. Meanwhile in New York 200 immigrant detainees are staging a one-day hunger strike at the Wackenhut Detention Center in Queens. [includes rush transcript]

Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have entered the second day of a hunger strike to protest conditions in Israeli jails.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society published a series of demands issued by the hunger-strikers. They include:

  • Ending the policy of stripping prisoners naked while conducting physical searches. 
  • Ending the policy of aggression and beatings.
  • Ending the policy of raiding the prisoners cells in inciting manners and destroying and confiscating the belongings of the prisoners
  • Allowing family visitation
  • Improving medical care
  • Ending the policy of individual and group solitary confinement
  • Improving the quality and the quantity of the food presented to prisoners and allowing them to receive clothes
  • Allowing books, stationary, sport equipment and letters into the prisons.

Meanwhile in New York 200 immigrant detainees are staging a one-day hunger strike at the Wackenhut Detention Center in Queens. The detainees are demanding the government review their case and for the immediate release of non-criminal detainees.

According to a press release issued by Khan: "None of the prisoners currently being held at Wackenhut Detention Center have any terrorism related or other criminal charges against them. Yet, they are locked for 23 hours per day and several have been there for close to a year or more. These detainees were picked up in the aftermath of 9.11 and have been held without criminal charge or due process, and in some cases, without access to a lawyer or access to appropriate food and medical healthcare. Several of the detainees are married to US citizens. "


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have entered the second day of a hunger strike to protest conditions in Israeli jails. Meanwhile in New York, 200 immigrant detainees are staging a one-day hunger strike at a Wackenhut Detention Center in Queens. The detainees demanding the government review their cases and for the immediate release of non-criminal detainees. First we go to the Middle East, to Basim Sbeih from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. Can you tell us about this strike and how many people are involved?

BASIM SBEIH: Okay. Thank you. 7,500 Palestinian prisoners entered — or started an open hunger strike beginning on the day 15th of August. With their empty stomachs, the prisoners want to fly the message of the Palestinian human being to the whole of the world. This — their message is the message of the tortured and those withheld under the life of the occupiers. The prisoners leave their destiny entrusted in the hands of people with compassion and dignity and those who believe in the right of every human being to be free. They call upon the free of the world to live up to their responsibility of defending dignified, humiliation free and torture free lives for every individual on this earth.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined by Bobby Khan from the Coney Island Avenue Project, talking about protests, a fast, a one-day hunger strike that’s taking place at the Wackenhut Detention Center in Queens. Can you talk about this strike, Bobby?

BASIM SBEIH: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: Bobby Khan.

BASIM SBEIH: All right.

AMY GOODMAN: We have a second guest on the line who is going to talk about another strike that is taking place, this at a detention center in New York. Bobby, can you describe what’s happening there?

BOBBY KHAN: Yes. Thank you. Thank you, Amy. This is Bobby Khan from Coney Island Avenue Project. I just wanted to inform that this morning, 200 detainees in Wackenhut Detention Center, mostly from — these are new immigrants, and they are demanding human treatment. They are demanding the right to due process. They’re demanding appropriate medical health care. They’re demanding their cases to be reviewed immediately. And all of them were arrested as an aftermath of 9/11, but no one is charged with any criminal offense or Bush war on terrorism, and they have nothing to do with that, but they are people of color. So, they’re saying — their families are saying that these are the reasons that they are being targeted, and most of them have their U.S. wives, U.S. citizens, and their kids are U.S.-born.

AMY GOODMAN: Bobby Khan, we are going to have to leave it there. But we continue to follow both of these stories.

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