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Battle of the Empty Stomachs wages on: Akram Rikhawi’s health continues to deteriorate as Mahmoud Sarsak’s hunger strike successfully concludes

Joint Press Release, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel

Ramallah-Jaffa, 20 June 2012—Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) reiterate their grave concern for Akram Rikhawi, who continues to face an imminent threat to his life on his 70th day of hunger strike today. Addameer lawyer Mona Neddaf was able to visit him yesterday in Ramleh prison medical clinic, though independent doctors from PHR-Israel are still being denied regular access to him since last visiting on 6 June.

Ms. Neddaf noted following her visit that Akram is extremely tired and weak and now weighs only 49 kilos. Furthermore, since 16 June he is refusing any vitamins and fluids through an IV. Though he is sustaining himself on water alone, Ms. Neddaf was troubled to observe that even drinking water is now very difficult for him and he is only able to consume approximately one liter per day.
 
Akram has not received a visit from an independent doctor since 6 June, as Israeli authorities continually deny requests by PHR-Israel. Fifteen days have now passed since the PHR-Israel doctor determined that Akram is at immediate risk of death, due to the combination of his protracted hunger strike and his prior chronic conditions, including diabetes and asthma. On 14 June, the Israeli District Court rejected an appeal filed by PHR-Israel to transfer Akram to a civilian hospital, despite his deteriorating health. Akram emphasized to Ms. Neddaf his wishes to be immediately transferred to a civilian hospital for proper care.
 
Akram is now held in the same room as Samer Al-Barq, who is on his 31st day of renewed hunger strike today in protest of his administrative detention. Akram commented that he and Samer Al-Barq’s morale remains high, though both feel that their cases have been forgotten in the media and other spheres. Akram continues to receive pressure from the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) administration to end his hunger strike.
 
While Akram and Samer remain steadfast in their acts of resistance, Addameer and PHR-Israel salute Mahmoud Sarsak, who ended his historic 92-day hunger strike on the night of 18 June upon Israel’s agreement to release him on 10 July. Mahmoud, who has been held without charge or trial for three years, successfully challenged Israel’s policy of arbitrary detention, and his incredible courage must be commended.
 
Surely the increased action from individuals and institutions all over the world on behalf of Mahmoud Sarsak contributed to Israeli authorities’ acceptance of his demands, and it is therefore clear that urgent pressure is needed on behalf of Akram Rikhawi and Samer Al-Barq as well, before it is too late.
 
Thus, Addameer and PHR-Israel stress the importance of the following demands:
  •  that Akram be immediately transferred and hospitalized in a civilian hospital, where he can receive the standard of care necessary;
  •   that the international community immediately intervene for independent doctors to have unrestricted access to Akram and Samer;
  • that both Akram and Samer immediately be permitted family visits.

 

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