Today is a day of International Action for Palestinian Prisoner’s Hunger Strike. For those of you who don’t know, here are the numbers:
Bilal Thiab … 77 Days
Thaer Halahleh … 75 Days
Hassan Safadi … 71 Days …
Omar Abu Shallal … 69 Days
Mohammedd Al-Taj … 61 Days
Mahmoud Sarsak … 55 Days
Faris Al-Natur … 48 Days
What is the cause? Thousands of Palestinians are wrongfully torn from their families and detained in Israeli prisons each year, most being held without any formal charges. Their big crime — being Palestinian. All they are asking for is their basic rights as prisoners of war, visitation rights, the right of education and other rights that are declared by international law. Rights that have been emphatically denied by the Israeli government.
The Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs received a letter from hunger striking Palestinian prisoner Thaer Halahleh addressed to his two year old daughter Lamar, most likely received and passed on by a lawyer from the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association “Al Dhameer” from a recent visit to the Ramleh prison hospital.
Thaer Halahleh, who is on day 75 of his hunger strike, is being detained without charges and the Israeli authorities refuse to disclose any information regarding his case to anyone–including Halahleh and his lawyer. Halahleh is the father of a beautiful two-year old girl named Lamar. When he was arrested back in 2010 his wife Shireen was seven months pregnant. Lamar was born while her father was in prison and has never seen her father. She knows him only from pictures and press posters. She sleeps with a photo of him underneath her pillow every night.
Thaer is currently hospitalized at Ramleh Prison and at risk of going into cardiac arrest any day.
Below is Thaer’s letter, translated by Jalal Najjar:
“My Beloved Lamar, forgive me because the occupation took me away from you, and took away from me the pleasure of witnessing my firstborn child that I have always prayed to God to see, to kiss, to be happy with. It is not your fault; this is our destiny as Palestinian people to have our lives and the lives of our children taken away from us, to be apart from each other and to have a miserable life. Nothing is complete in our lives because of this unjust occupation that is lurking on every corner of our lives turning it into eeriness, a continuous pursuit and torture. Despite the fact that I was deprived from holding you and hearing your voice, from watching you grow up and move around in the house and in your bed, and that I was deprived of my role as a human and a father with my daughter, your existence has given me all the power and hope, and when I saw your picture with your mother in the sit-in tent, you were so calm staring in wonder at people, as if you were looking for your father, looking at my pictures that are hung inside the tent asking in silence why is my father not coming back. I felt that you are with me, in my sentiment and inside my mind, as if you are a part of my heartbeats, steadfast and the blood that flows in my veins, opening all doors for me spreading clear skies around me, and unleashing your free childish voice after this long silence.”
“Lamar my love: I know that you are not to be blamed and that you don’t yet understand why your father is going through this battle of hunger strike for the 75th day, but when you grow up you will understand that the battle of freedom is the battle of going back to you, so that I can never be taken away from you again or to be deprived of your smile or seeing you, so that the occupier will never kidnap me again from you.”
“When you grow up you will understand how injustice was brought upon your father and upon thousands of Palestinians whom the occupation has put in prisons and jail cells, shattering their lives and future for no reason other then their pursuit of freedom, dignity and independence. You will know that your father did not tolerate injustice and submission, and that he would never accept insult and compromise, and that he is going through a hunger strike to protest against the Jewish state that wants to turn us into humiliated slaves without any rights or patriotic dignity.”
“My beloved Lamar keep your head up always and be proud of your father, and thank everyone who supported me, who supported the prisoners in their struggle, and don’t be afraid for God is with us always, and God never lets down people who have faith and patience. We are righteous, and right will always prevail against injustice and wrong doers.”
“Lamar my love: that day will come, and I will make it up to you for everything, and tell you the whole story, and your days that will follow will be more beautiful, so let your days pass now and wear your prettiest clothes, run and then run again in the gardens of your long life, go forward and forward for nothing is behind you but the past, and this is your voice I hear all the time as a melody of freedom”.
You don’t have to be Palestinian to read this letter and weep … just human. You don’t have to be Muslim to support their cause … remember Palestinians are Muslims and Christians alike … The rouge state of Israel has been committing gross injustices against human rights of all non-Jews since its founding 64 years ago today on May 14th, 1948. No matter what they will have the Western media believe and propagate– they are not defending themselves from terrorism — they are the terrorists. They are the looming threat to world peace.
If you believe that you are too small to make a difference, then you have never spent the night with a mosquito
Okay, so a mosquito makes a difference in an annoying way –but the principle is the same: One person can be a thorn in the side of injustice. One person can be a voice for truth. One person’s kindness can save a life. One person matters.
Show your solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners and their cause during their hunger strike today … even if it is something that seems small and insignificant … the smallest gesture can add up to make a huge difference for those who need it most. You may not be able to single handedly over-throw Israeli corruption but showing where your support lies WILL make a difference. The biggest barrier now is informing the Western public as there has been no major media coverage of this issue outside of the blogosphere. Share Thaer’s letter, change your profile picture or simply post a status update to help open the eyes and hearts of the American public. Some of the best advice my father ever gave me was to not ever let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do. Edmund Burke said:
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
If we all remain silent because we believe our voices are not loud enough to be heard then things will never change and the suffering that these prisoners — have endured, the sacrifices that they have made … will have all been in vain. There is no greater shame than that. Do not let their stories be in vain. Help reunite two-year old Lamar with her loving father … Inshallah, God willing.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
O God! Please grant us the strength to persevere and stand up and unite against what is wrong. Please protect and keep under your cloak the families of those Palestinian men and women detained in Israeli prisons.
Please keeps the sons and daughters of Palestine in your thoughts and prayers, today and always.
وَالعَصرِِ إِنَّ الإِنسٰنَ لَفى خُسرٍ
إِلَّا الَّذينَ ءامَنوا وَعَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ وَتَواصَوا بِالحَقِّ وَتَواصَوا بِالصَّبرِ
Verily man is in loss. Except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth, and recommend one another to patience
Surat Al Asr
O God! Please make right the affairs of the Palestinians. O Lord, they are helpless — so help them. Through their thirst pour upon them patience … Through their hunger make them steadfast and grant them victory over their enemies. Plot for them and provide for them with what You please — for if You support them then no one can overpower them and if You forsake them– then who will be able to support them after You?
May the peace and blessings of God be upon us all in this time of darkness and trial.
-Shams Al Ghayeb.