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Thirty-five Oireachtas members sign petition on mass Palestinian prison hunger strike

9 May, 2012 - by Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Thirty-five Oireachtas members, including independents and deputies and senators from all political parties and groups in the Dáil and Seanad have signed their names to a petition calling for an immediate response to the ongoing mass hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Tomorrow a cross party group of TDS will attempt to raise the matter in the Dáil under "Topical issues".

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has welcomed the show of political unity. He said:

"Official figures show that over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners have embarked on a hunger strike in protest against their conditions and Israel’s use of administrative detention. The majority began their protest on April 17th, but there are several who have been without food for much longer. Two individuals, Bilal Diab and Tha'er Halahlah, are in severe medical danger having both been without food for over 70 days.

The prisoner support and human rights association, Addameer, states that 20% of the total Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (and as high as 40% of the male population) have been arrested by the Israeli authorities. There are currently 4,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and around 300 of these are being held in administrative detention. Administrative detention is a military practice that allows authorities to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial and without presenting any evidence against them.

The conditions imposed on prisoners and detainees are shocking. It is usual for prisoners to be held in solitary confinement and frequently denied visits from their family. Those in solitary confinement are held in a cell no larger than two and a half square metres, and which contains only a mattress and blanket. Detainees are permitted only one hour of sunlight and fresh air per day, and have their legs and hands cuffed during this time. In one of the most reported cases, Abdullah Barghouti has spent nine years in solitary confinement"

He continued:

"Acknowledging these factors, the 35 Oireachtas members call for an immediate response to the Palestinian non-violent protests. The current situation of Palestinians in Israeli jails is unacceptable. We call on both the Israeli government and international actors to recognise the following demands of prisoners:
1) That International Law and its provisions with regard to administrative detention are respected.
2) That Israel ends its policy of administrative detention.
3) That Israel ends its policy of keeping prisoners in solitary confinement.
4) That prisoners are allowed to see their families."

The Oireachtas members who signed the petition are:

Gerry Adams TD Senator David Norris
Minister of State, Joe Costello TD Minister of State, Jan O Sullivan TD
Richard Boyd Barrett TD Olivia Mitchell TD
Robert Troy TD Thomas Pringle TD
Mary Lou McDonald TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD
Gerald Nash TD Senator Katherine Zappone
Maureen O Sullivan TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Michael Colreavy TD Senator Ivana Bacik
Seán Crowe TD Pearse Doherty TD
Finian McGrath TD Senator Terry Leyden
Dessie Ellis TD Martin Ferris TD
Senator Susan O Keefe Sandra McLellan TD
Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD Jonathan O’Brien TD
Patrick Nulty TD Joan Collins TD
Brian Stanley TD Peadar Tóibín TD
Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh Senator Michael Mullins
Senator Jim Walsh Senator Kathryn Reilly
Senator David Cullinane

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