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Lawyer: Detainee on 64-day hunger strike in shackles

May 2, 2012 9:05 P.M. (Updated: May 3, 2012 5:32 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli prison guards are shackling Bilal Thiab, a Palestinian detainee who has refused food for 64 days, a lawyer said Wednesday.

Thiab, 27, lost consciousness on Tuesday and was briefly taken to the emergency room, but was fully conscious on Wednesday and guarded by four prison guards, Prisoners Society lawyer Jawad Bulus told Ma'an.

Bulus said a group of Israeli prison service officials and the hospital's deputy director were in Thiab's room when he visited the detainee.

Thiab complained that he couldn't sleep because of six cuffs shackling him to the bed. Prison guards refused to remove the shackles so he could pray, he said, adding that guards forced him to wait for an hour and a half to use the toilet.

The hospital director warned Thiab that he urgently needed certain fluids but Thiab refused to discuss anything until his shackles were removed, Bulus said.

A doctor from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel who visited Thiab on Tuesday warned his condition was life-threatening, the prisoners rights group Addameer said.

"Bilal’s life-threatening condition includes sharp weight loss, concern for peripheral nerve damage, extremely low pulse (39 beats per minute) and blood pressure, severe dehydration, and possible internal bleeding," the doctor told Addameer.

Thiab and 33-year-old Thaer Halahla went on hunger strike on Feb. 29 in protest over their detention without charge or trial.

In February, Israel commuted the sentence of Khader Adnan, who was also held without charge or trial, after he refused food for 66 days.

Ten detainees who started refusing food in the last two months have been transferred to hospital in a serious health condition, prisoners society head Qadura Fares said Wednesday.

Prisoners groups estimate 2,000 detainees are now refusing food in a bid to improve their conditions.
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