Dignity Triumphs over Tyranny

On February 21, Sheikh Khader Adnan broke his 66-day hunger strike following a promise by Israeli authorities not to renew his administrative detention and to release him on April 17.

The 33-year-old Master’s student in economics who works as a baker in the village of Arrabe, near the City of Jenin in the West Bank, was held without charge in “administrative detention” since December 17.

After raiding his home at 3.30am, Sheik Adnan was blindfolded and his hands were tied behind his back before he was thrown in the back of a military jeep.

During the ride to the nearby “Jewish-only” settlement of Dutan, Israeli soldiers slapped his face, beat him on the head and kicked him.

He was not stranger to Israel’s rotating door of administrative detention. He has been held at least eight times since 1999.

Under Israel’s system of “Jewish democracy”, administrative detention allows the occupying power to arbitrarily hold any Palestinian civilian for up to six months, which can be renewed indefinitely, without trial or charge.

Following his arrest, Sheik Adnan released a letter through his lawyers where he said: “I have been humiliated, beaten and harassed by interrogators for no reason, and thus I swore to God I would fight the policy of administrative detention to which I and hundreds of my fellow prisoners fell prey… The only thing I can do is offer my soul to God, as I believe righteousness and justice will eventually triumph over tyranny and oppression.”

There are more than 300 Palestinians, including elected parliamentarians and community leaders, in Israeli jails under extended, renewable administrative detention sentences.

The Israeli administration’s detention policies were decried this week by international organisations and human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Israeli human rights group B’tselem.

Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, criticised “authority figures, from the UN Secretary-General on down, ”for expressing empathy for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was imprisoned by Hamas, while remaining “notably silent in the much more compelling ordeal” in Israeli jails.

In a 2010 report, the US State Department criticised China’s “lack of due process in judicial proceedings” and “the use of administrative detention.” It went further to assert that “arbitrary arrest and detention remained serious problems.

“The law grants police broad administrative detention powers and the ability to detain individuals for extended periods without formal arrest or criminal charges.”

This description could apply to Israel, yet the US State Department turns a blind eye, while such practices are applied in occupied Palestine.

Ironically, when Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev was asked by CNN why Sheikh Adnan could not be put on trial if there was “so much evidence proving he’s guilty”, he said Israel was acting “like other democracies, like the US”.

On Monday, following a visit from his father, wife, children and ailing mother, and after holding tight his two-year-old daughter, Sheikh Adnan declared: “My dignity was more important than food.”

Today, his dignity has triumphed over Israel’s malevolent tyranny.

Let’s hope his 66-day fast will shed more light on the plight of more than 300 Palestinian leaders jailed without charge under the same cruel Israeli laws.

Jamal Kanj can be reached at: JAMAL_KANJ@bapco.net. Read other articles by Jamal.