Perhaps one of the most significant nonviolent protest in recent Palestinian history was that of the recent hunger strike taken up by thousands of Palestinian Prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Taking up protests against the conditions of Israeli prisons whilst also challenging certain injustices such as administrative detention has been an ever present struggle for many a year now however in 2012 the year heralded by many Palestinians as a great year for progress and change we have witnessed the first mass nonviolent protest of prisoners ever in the history of Palestinian detainees.
According to the prisoner support and human rights association; Addameer, a great number of those held are classed as political prisoners and the statistics show an increase in prisoners being detained, including higher numbers of administrative detainees and child prisoners some of whom are under the age of 16.
Further information from The legal centre for minority rights in Israel; Adalah, reveals that the conditions of prisons where Palestinians are kept is severely inadequete and tantamount to inhumane punishment thus breaching humanitarian and human rights law.
Our society cannot stress enough that human rights are of vital importance, regardless of whether some of the prisoners held are genuinely guilty of crimes. These people are still human beings which is perhaps a difficult concept for those who would rather dehumanize them, we firmly state that we cannot abandon Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are innocent of any crimes. To allow them to continually suffer inhumane treatment at the hands of the Israeli Prison System (IPS) is unacceptable.
After having received an email alert calling on us to encourage our local Members of Parliament to sign Early Day Motion 34 we went ahead as a society to lobby the 18 MP’s we have here in Northern Ireland urging them to put their signatures to this motion.
Delightedly we can say that Mr. Mark Durkan the SDLP MP for Foyle, Margaret Ritchie SDLP MP for South Down and Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP for South Belfast and also Leader of the SDLP got back to us pledging their fully support behind EDM 34.
Below is a copy of the correspondence (Please click for full image size):
Our entire executive would like to take this opportunity to thank those Members of Parliament who have signed this Early Day Motion and to hail our lobby a success that brings forward a vital discussion at Westminster regarding the inhuman treatment facing Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails.
Disappointingly we would finish up stating that out of 18 Northern Ireland MP’s it is abysmal to receive responses from only three of eighteen MPs, especially given we lobbied all of them with the exact same message simply calling for a genuine approach to Human Rights.
Finishing up this post we would still encourage our other Northern Ireland MP’s to sign this EDM to show your commitment to equality and basic human rights for all.
On behalf of the entire society we thank all those 48 current signatories to EDM 34.