Palestinian political prisoner and super hero Samer Issawi has been on hunger strike for 202 days – literally starving for justice – for the world to open their eyes, ears and hearts to his plight, and the plight of his people.
I often hear well-meaning liberals ask, “where is the Palestinian Nelson Mandela, MLK or Gandhi?”.
Ironically today in 1990 Nelson Mandela, after being imprisoned for 27 years, was released. Mandela, like Issawi was also jailed for struggling for not only his freedom, but the freedom of his people. Mandela was a member of the the African National Congress (ANC), which is the oldest black political organization in South Africa and was, like Hamas, designated by the white, racist, ruling class-as a terrorist organization.
Today Samer Issawi is hanging on by a string, for his life. But the truth is he’s been dying a slow painful death, since the day he was arrested – without charge or trial – in a process called “administrative detention” by Israeli occupation forces. Administrative detention is a nice, sterilized term which allows Israeli/zionist forces to arbitrarily kidnap, arrest, torture and harass any Palestinian, at any given moment.
And to be precise, he was rearrested – after having served 11 years in Israeli dungeons. Issawi was previously sentenced to 30 years by Israel in 2002 and was among freed Palestinian prisoners who were released in October 2011 under a prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel. However, this time Israel reneged and rearrested him eight months later, as it did in previous prisoner exchange deals.
What is also quite ironic and astonishing, is that Gandhi’s longest hunger strike from prison lasted merely 21 days. This is truly nothing to scoff at. However, what makes Samer beyond amazing is that he has lasted nearly 10 times as long without food – despite being beaten, abused, humiliated, in freezing conditions – while both he AND his family were living through hell and under constant attack by his captors.
But, unlike Mandela, Gandhi, and King – because he is Palestinian and our lives mean nothing to those in power, their was no global outcry. No attempt by so called democratic governments, or human rights organizations to intervene.
What Martin Luther King, Jr. meant when he said “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” explains what comes as no surprise to some of us, that the media has been completely silent about Samer’s case. Clearly, they are not telling us the truth (about anything), except for what their corporate sponsors want us to know-and why their has been absolutely no media coverage of any of this reality. Nor has a single US government official, who not only admit, but praise their “unbreakable bond” with this criminal regime, who have made these abuses possible with US tax dollars.
That’s why each and everyone of us has a critically important role to play in furthering justice for Samer, for Palestine, and for ALL those who struggle to further these righteous aims. The only voice to amplify Samer’s message to the world, points to the only hope and power that’s been illustrated in the struggle for justice, today-and that is, the voice of the people. Twitter activists globally who attempt to amplify his case by “trending” on twitter, reminds me of the ISM, the flotilla‘s and other activists trying to reach the world with this message of justice-since we know that governments, media and so called human rights organizations are not going to do the right thing. The choice is ours alone.
The question that remains is: when the next oppressed people begin to rise up against this oppressive system will we say: Why isn’t their a Samer Issawi – and/or will we learn from these inspirational leaders that have taught us that dignity, freedom and justice, are indeed more important than food – and well worth living, and dying for.
‘Hungry’ – by Doc Jazz