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South African politicians, journalists to go on 24-hour solidarity hunger strike

May 12, 2017 5:15 P.M. (Updated: May 13, 2017 10:17 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Several ministers of the South African government have declared they they will open a 24-hour hunger strike between the 14th and 15th of May in solidarity with some 1,300 Palestinian prisoners currently on the 26th day of a mass hunger strike.

Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) movement Mustafa Barghouthi said in a statement Friday that South Africa’s minister of health, minister of communications, minister of industry and economic development, and minister of science will participate in the hunger strike along with six deputies of ministers, high officials, and leaders of the African National Congress (ANC), as well as journalists and leaders of national social organizations.

Meanwhile, a statement by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in South Africa confirmed that the 24-hour hunger strike is an act of support for “the fair demands of Palestinian prisoners and a means to exert pressure on the Israeli government to force it to respond to the hunger strikers’ demands.”

The Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike have been calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention -- imprisonment without charge or trial -- among other demands for basic rights.

According to prisoners' rights organization Addameer, 40 percent of the male Palestinian population has been detained by Israeli authorities at some point in their lives, as rights groups have long accused Israel of using routine imprisonment as a tool to erode family and political life in the Palestinian territory.

Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to Palestinian organizations.

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