Abdulhadi Alkhawaja Painfully Force-Fed
by Stephen Lendman
May 1 marks his 83rd hunger striking day. At issue is justice denied him and all Bahrainis. One of the world’s most ruthless dictatorships terrorizes them.
They resist courageously. Abdulhadi inspires them. He’s now painfully force-fed against his will.
After being denied visitations for days, family members finally saw him Sunday in a prison hospital. His wife, Khadija, said he’s weak but in good spirits.
He told her he’s being drugged and force-fed through a nasoenteric tube. It reaches his stomach or small bowel through his nose.
Reports on force-feeding Guantanamo prisoners call it torture. Thickness of a finger inserted tubes through noses and throats abrasively draw blood. They also cause severe pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and shortness of breath.
Guantanamo uses no sedatives or anesthesia. Prisoners are strapped in “restraint chairs.” The procedure repeats twice daily. The same blood covered tubes are used from one detainee to another. Obama continues the same policy.
One prisoner called the experience “torture, torture, torture.” The World Medical Association (WMA) condemns it. It calls it unethical and never justified. In 2006, it said:
“Forcible feeding is never ethically acceptable. Even if intended to benefit, feeding accompanied by threats, coercion, force or use of physical restraints is a form of inhuman and degrading treatment. Equally unacceptable is the forced feeding of some detainees in order to intimidate or coerce other hunger strikers to stop fasting.”
WMA’s secretary general, Otmar Kloiber, said:
“Physicians should never be used to break hunger strikes through acts such as force feeding.” Prison doctors “have exactly the same ethical obligations treating (detainees) as they do when caring” for their own patients.
Ebrahim Zuwayed is Abdulhadi’s doctor. He told family members he holds him, hospital officials, and Interior Ministry officials responsible for his treatment. His hunger strike continues, he added.
US media scoundrels ignore him. On April 29, Reuters headlined “Bahrain hunger striker force-fed, drugged: wife,” saying:
Bahrain authorities denied what Abdulhadi revealed. They claimed he’s doing it voluntarily. His wife told Reuters:
“I went to see my husband today, and he told me that he was drugged last Monday. After he woke up, he found two IV (intravenous) injections in his arms and a feeding-tube down his throat. It was done against his will.”
She saw him for the first time in two weeks. Family members didn’t know if he was alive or dead.
On April 30, a Bahrain appeals court said he and 20 others will be retried. Abdulhadi’s lawyer, Faten Haddad, confirmed it, saying:
“The Appeals Court has accepted that the case should be retried because Alkhawaja did not get a fair trial. The only proof the prosecution had against him was the admission he provided during torture.”
Under US and international human rights law, coercively extracted confessions are inadmissible as evidence in judicial proceedings.
According to the Bahraini News Agency (BNA):
“The court is ordering that the trial take place again and that testimony from prosecution and defence witnesses be heard once more as if it is a new trial.”
It’s not clear when the case will be heard. Reuters suggested it could begin in a week. Bahraini authorities sentenced Abdulhadi to life in prison. Charges against him are spurious. At issue is his courageous activism for justice. He’s willing to die for it.
A Final Comment
Around 2,000 Palestinian prisoners also hunger strike for justice. On April 29, the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network headlined “Palestinian leader Ahmad Sa’adat transferred to Ramle prison hospital from isolation in Ramon.”
Ahmad’s the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) founder. He’s one of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners. In 2002, Israel sentenced him to 30 years in for alleged “security-related” offenses. They include leading a prohibited organization. Israel calls legal resistance terrorism.
Ahmad spent years in isolation. On April 17, he began hunger striking with hundreds of other prisoners. Earlier he refused food for three weeks.
In response to his prison hospital transfer, the PFLP issued a statement, saying it:
“holds the occupation government fully responsible for any consequences to the life of General Secretary Sa’adat and all of the heroic prisoners fighting the battle of open hunger strike in order to meet their just demands, particularly ending solitary confinement.”
“We have great pride in national leader Ahmad Sa’adat, who is locked in the battle of open hunger strike….we confirm our full support of the prisoners’ movement strike…and we call for the widest movement on all levels to support the prisoners in their strike in the prisons of the occupation and force their demands to be accepted.”
No one knew he was transferred until his lawyer tried visiting him at Ramon Prison. Ahmad’s wife, Abla, said her husband won’t ingest food until his goals are met. They include ending isolation and permitting family visits for Gazan prisoners. They’ve been denied them for six years.
On April 28, Ahmad’s letter to supporters was obtained without Israel’s knowledge. He addressed all his loved ones, saying:
“Do not worry, my health is much better than in the previous hunger strike, and I am confident it will remain so. Thank you for your continual support to my position in this hunger strike.”
“As is the case in every strike, they took all of our electrical appliances, canteen, clothing…we only have left prison clothes, some change of underwear, pajamas, towels, soap and toothpaste.”
He and others refusing food since April 17 lost up to seven kilograms in weight. So far, they’re in good health. Their morale is high. They’re determined to persist. They’re confident of victory.
“What we need from the masses of the people, political forces and institutions is to raise the voices and the call of our just demands of the prisoners with a unified voice, and not subject the cause of the prisoners to internal disputes or the management of division.”
“This strike includes participation from all political forces and factions, without exception, and the best gift from the political forces supporting us is to implement agreements for unity, on which the ink is not yet dry. Such unity is an essential foundation, the most important pillar to achieve our just national goals.”
“In conclusion, I salute and thank all of the Palestinian, Arab and international forces standing beside our just struggle.”
Long abused injustice victims never win redress easily. Around 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners persist for it now. Abdulhadi and other persecuted Bahrainis do also. They deserve world support and then some.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.