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Palestinian Prisoner Samer Issawi In Critical Condition: Exclusive Interview With Sister

Posted By Lisa Barron On February 7, 2013 @ 10:06 am In Foreign Affairs,News | 15 Comments

An Israeli prison guard escorts Samer Issawi, a Palestinian political prisoner, out of his court hearing in Jerusalem's civil court, Jan. 16, 2013. (Photo/OrenZiv)

An Israeli prison guard escorts Samer Issawi, a Palestinian political prisoner, out of his court hearing in Jerusalem’s civil court, Jan. 16, 2013. (Photo/OrenZiv)

(MintPress) – In a rare telephone interview, Samer Issawi’s sister Shireen tells Mint Press News that a Red Cross doctor who saw him on Monday later visited the family and warned that the 33-year-old’s heart could stop at any moment.

Issawi has been on hunger strike since July 29, 2012, for nearly 200 days now. He has remained in the Assaf Harofeh Hospital after being transferred there from his prison cell on Jan. 19 due to a slowing heart rate.

On Feb. 5, Issawi was taken in a wheelchair to the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem for a ruling on his case; the hearing had been postponed from Jan. 16.

Once again, the court delayed the hearing, this time until mid-March. “That is in effect a death sentence, because I don’t think it’s possible for his body to endure until then,” Haimeth El-Zabri of the Free Samer Issawi campaign tells Mint Press News in an email.

“I am staying strong, because I have to be here for Samer and do everything I can in order to apply pressure to release him,” says Shireen. “I have to be strong to continue going to the Red Cross and other organizations that can help.”

People power

She and others are also spearheading efforts for Samer’s release by organizing demonstrations  outside the hospital where he is languishing.

And they are actively drumming up support on social media, with regular comments on the Free Samer Issawi Campaign Facebook page.

In recent weeks, as Issawi’s condition continues to worsen, attempts to draw global attention to his plight have intensified across several social media platforms.

Indeed, supporters have frequently gathered on Twitter in an attempt to get a new hashtag for Samer and other Palestinian hunger strikers to make it into the world-trending list.

They have already managed to do so four times this month, for several minutes at a time.

Issawi’s supporters in the U.S. and the U.K. have also organized banner drops in Washington, D.C, Chicago, Cleveland, Austin and major cities in other parts of the world. There have been several protests in Washington, including one at the White House and one in London.

Other efforts include solidarity fasts both nationwide and across the globe.

Laila and Tariq Issawi, Samer Issawi's parents, in their home, Jan. 4, 2013. (Photo/Shiraz Grinbaum).

Laila and Tariq Issawi, Samer Issawi’s parents, in their home, Jan. 4, 2013. (Photo/Shiraz Grinbaum).

A family’s agony

Shireen says that Samer’s family is doing its best to hold up. But their mother, she reveals, is in poor condition.

“She is very weak and very concerned about Samer, and she cries a lot of the time,”  Shireen tells Mint Press News.

“She supports Samer,” she continued. “But she wants him to live. It is very complicated and emotional.”

Shireen also confirms reports that the Israeli authorities have cut off the family’s water supply and that they are dependent on neighbors for water, as well as the fact that Israeli forces demolished her brother Fares’ new house.

Both Shireen and Fares have been called to interrogation centers on several occasions. “I was questioned because I support Samer, and I have taken his case to Jerusalem,” she said.

She says she will continue to fight for his release. Until and unless it is too late.

See Previous Jan. 25 Mint Press News coverage on Samer Issawi 


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