‘Either free or dead’: Hunger striking Palestinian journalist close to death in Israeli jail
[Update 05/02/16] Al-Qiq rejects court freeze on detention, continues hunger strike
[04/05/2016] As hunger-striking Palestinian journalist Mohammad Al-Qiq nears death in an Israeli prison, the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council has added its voice to the international outrage over his continuing internment. Al-Qiq is being held without charge or trial under Israel’s system of administrative detention, and his wife Fayha Shalash has said that “[Mohammad’s] decision is very clear: either free or dead, not in between”.
Amnesty International has stated that Israel’s use of non consensual medical intervention in this case is in violation of the prohibition of torture, and therefore prohibited under International law. Human rights and journalists’ organisations have said Al Qiq has been jailed because of his journalistic work, and have called on Israel to either charge him with a crime or release him.
Mohammed al-Qiq*, a 33-year-old correspondent for the Saudi AlMajd TV network, has been on hunger strike for 72 days following his arrest and imprisonment on November 21 last. He is protesting the conditions of his imprisonment including torture at the hands of interrogators. According to his attorney, Al-Qiq has been slipping in and out of consciousness and has now lost the power of speech, hearing and sight and is breathing with great difficulty.
Following unsanctioned medical interventions at the HaEmek hospital where Al-Qiq is now detained, Amnesty International called on the Israeli authorities to immediately cease all non-consensual treatment of the journalist, pointing out that such interventions violate laws regarding the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, and are aimed at pressuring al-Qiq to end his hunger strike
Efforts by human rights organisations including Israeli groups B’Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights to gain access to al-Qiq for independent medical examination have to date been unsuccessful.
The father-of-two from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank is being held under Israel’s controversial administrative detention system, which Israel uses to intern Palestinians for renewable six-month periods without trial or charge. Although legal in certain very specific circumstances, Israel’s arbitrary and widespread use of administrative detention violates international laws including the Geneva Convention. Amnesty International has said that the policy “violates the right to a fair trial”, and has been used “to trample on the human rights of detainees for decades” and “suppress the legitimate and peaceful activities of activists”. The UN, through its Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, has repeatedly called on Israel to end this practice.
In a statement earlier this week, the EU expressed its serious concern for Al-Qiq, and for the 500 Palestinians, amongst them at least four children, who are currently being held under administrative detention.
In a press conference yesterday journalist Fayha Shalash, Al-Qiq’s wife, highlighted the urgency of his situation as well as his determination to continue his hunger strike. She noted that she has not been able to see her husband, bring him photos of his children or the Quran, and said he is still handcuffed to his hospital bed. Al Qiq has recently made his will and is preparing for death. Moreover, Shalash underscored that her husband refuses any deals with Israel, saying that his only demand is freedom.
* Al-Qiq is variously transliterated as Al-Qiq, Al-Qeeq, Al-Qaiq and Al-Qeiq
Reporters Without Borders article 15/01/16 – http://en.rsf.org/palestine-rsf-concerned-about-journalist-15-01-2016,48742.html
Information about administrative detention from Addameer Palestinian Prisoners Organisation – http://www.addameer.org/israeli_military_judicial_system/administrative_detention
Information about administrative detention from B’Tselem Israeli Human Rights Organisation – http://www.btselem.org/topic/administrative_detention
Amnesty Internation information about Administrative Detention – https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2012/06/israel-injustice-and-secrecy-surrounding-administrative-detention/