Open-ended Hunger Strike Launched at Birzeit University

Today, Birzeit University students launched an open-ended hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. Students from all political factions erected 2 tents in the university in which the hunger strikers will stay until their demand of freedom for the political prisoners is met.

Over 2000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launched a hunger strike on Saturday in demand for their freedom. The Birzeit University Student Council has launched a solidarity action with the prisoners which they say will not end until the prisoners have won freedom.

Over 30 students will begin the hunger strike tonight with many more expected to join in the coming days. A student leader told Birzeit news, "This is a supportive activity to the hunger strike by prisoners.

It differs from a usual hunger strike in that this case is not about conditions in the prison but about the demand of freedom. We hope to create pressure locally and internationally, express the issue and make the world acknowledge it. We want to create a sympathetic feeling on the street with the prisoners."

Forty-one Birzeit University students are currently in Israeli jails and a large percentage of students have been imprisoned at some time during their studies. One of the hunger strikers who spent over a year in jail told Birzeit News, "A hunger strike is very significant. In prison everything is controlled by the Prison Administration. The only thing you can prove you are in control of is your will. A hunger strike gives a message to the outside world that the choice is between freedom or death."

Palestinian prisoners are often subject to torture during their detention including sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, hooding with a filthy sack, position abuse such as being tied in painful positions for long periods and violent shaking. Israel is the only country in the world which has legalized the use of torture against prisoners. In addition, some prisoners are kept in Administrative Detention where they are held for indefinite periods without charge or trial. Currently two Birzeit students are held in Administrative Detention and one of these was transferred to interrogation last week.