Khader Adnan: Hungry for dignity
I feel obligated to write to you about a man called Khader Adnan. For those of you who haven’t heard of him yet, the definition of that name is: He is my hero! I’m writing this knowing for sure that it is completely and utterly useless as I can copy hundreds of links written about the struggle of this Palestinian hunger-striker for the past two months yet nothing has ever changed for him. He is still there in the dark Israeli jails or more accurately shackled to his bed dying in a hospital.
His story in short is that this man has been abducted and beaten up in front of his two young daughters and pregnant wife by Israeli soldiers at 3:00 am from his house in Jenin/West Bank. That was December 17 2011 in which he immediately declared his hunger strike up till this moment you’re reading this post. He’s been kept under administrative detention ever since under the pretext of having secret evidence against him that neither Khader nor his lawyer is aware of.
Administrative detention is a procedure under which detainees are held without charge or trial. On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can be continued indefinitely.
Please read this excellent article on Khader’s history, detention and health covered by the independent: Khader Adnan: The West Bank’s Bobby Sands
Outraged Palestinians all around started campaigns, blogs and different activities to raise awareness and to put pressure on international media outlets for a proper coverage of Khader’s story to eventually pressurize Israel into releasing him. And since you’re reading this angry post, none of this happened. In Gaza, every Monday morning the families of Palestinian prisoners go to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for a weekly one-hour (desperate) protest for the sake of their jailed kids. So, as Khader Adnan joined their sons and daughters in the struggle, they set up a tent in front of the ICRC to support him and his cause of putting an end to the administrative detention. That tent was never full unless the Hamas or Islamic Jihad leaders finally decide to visit so their sheep supporters would follow with their factional flags. The prisoners’ families and the regular people who always show up there needing no one’s invitation feel nothing but the hypocrisy of these leaders and their speeches full of empty promises all for the sake of media coverage and propaganda. It really hurts when you see the so-called ‘leadership’ benefiting from our own suffering.
For instance, the other day came Fathi Hamad, Hamas’s minister of interior, and preached about their resistance, strong will in fighting the occupation, etc..: Things we only hear about in their dramatic, fictional speeches. He had actually got the guts to:
1. Relate Khader’s steadfastness to the greatness of Islamists such as themselves and Islamic Jihad which made me wonder: What if that man was leftist for example?
2. Link Khader’s fight against Israel’s well known injustice to the Islamic Jihad who clearly and publicly stated that they would act against Israel when Khader Adnan is dead! The hardcore boys here are waiting for Adnan’s death so they’d act!
3. That Hamas will release Khader with an upcoming prisoners’ swap deal like the one they accomplished last year when they had Shalit. My question for him is: So, do you have any Shalits left under your bed? If not, how exactly do you plan to capture another soldier anytime soon? Or maybe we got this all wrong, maybe he meant that this would be the plan to free Khader Adnan’s dead body-you know the man has no time left as his heart might stop at any moment now!
As one last gesture to prove to you how Hamas is really concerned about Khader’s case is that when their own Abdel Aziz Dwaik, the speaker of the Palestinian Parliament, got arrested at a checkpoint in January 19 2012, Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip rushed to the ICRC with their supporters and media to make a big conference condemning the horrible act of Israel. But if you do a little calculation here, you would find that in Jan.17 Khader Adnan was entering the 32nd day of his hunger strike. At that time, the people who knew and supported Khader there had seen no one from Hamas showing any interest in Khader’s cause. Hence, the prisoners’ families boycotted Hamas’s conference for Dwaik.
For me personally, I regularly visit the simi-empty tent in Gaza and went on a 3-day hunger strike that activists declared on twitter starting Feb.8 in support of Khader. I will not speak of that experience as it will be seriously sick to talk about some dizziness, exhaustion and lack of concentration that prevented me from doing some dead-lined work while Khader is literary facing death at any moment due to his continuous hunger strike. But what was really interesting in that experience the very depressing reactions I got from friends and family. They all made sure that I knew what I did was insignificant, some made fun of me and others pointed out that I’m an attention seeker though all of them did not show one moment of solidarity with Khader. Yes, I was mad at them in the beginning, but eventually realized that these are the reactions of helpless people, we are all helpless of course, but these people I’m talking about here are the ones in denial. They know there are important causes we should stand for in our world, yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is the same as the 310 other administrative detainees in Israeli jails. They all want to end it, but only Khader Adnan chose to do something about it even if he stood alone. To me, in all cases Khader is a winner, simply because he never bowed and from him I learn that every single day.
Last Wednesday, we at the ICRC tent spontaneously decided to go to the end of the ICRC street and hold banners to drag people’s attention since they pass by the tent as if it doesn’t even exist while the local mainstream media doesn’t give much coverage to the issue.
My friends and I were standing at a very vital crossroad here where cars never stop passing, so a good number of people had to see us. Well, the reactions varied from one car to another. Mostly were like this:
-Laughing and mocking us.
-Saying we’re crazy.
-Giving us disgusted looks “specially to me” because not only am I a girl, but also an inappropriate one ‘not covering my hair’!
-Being sarcastic and commenting: “Are we the ones jailing him? What do you want us to do?”
-Others who actually were looking at my legs and hair instead of the banner, blowing kisses and verbally harassing me.
-And finally, the minority who cared and gave us the victory sign, a smile, or verbal support. Others who stopped and cared to ask questions-mostly were great school kids (I LOVE schools kids).
When we went back to the tent before dark, we evaluated the spontaneous move and decided to do it regularly with bigger numbers at different vital crossroads. Only then I was told that the Hamsawi activists-hating man ‘Abu Saqer’ who regularly interrogated me and and other activists for months passed us by with his internal security vehicle and got out of his path to force me out of the street (I fortunately didn’t notice he was the one driving). He also did this hand gesture to one of my friends that clearly held a threat of bad consequences to this- Uh, #goodtimes!
Right on the next day, I asked mom to join me but preparing lunch was obviously a priority, then she said this provoking sentence thinking it will be an uplift: “You go habibti, you’re covering the place of the whole family.” I left with disappointment and said: “No mom, no one can cover the place of someone else, never.’
But my 4-year-old beautiful nephew ‘Mido’ wanted to join me and I tried to explain to him where we’re going and he agreed. A kid willingly offered to join me while grown ups don’t even know who Khader is. When we got downstairs (came down the stairs of 11 floors due to power cut) to find Mido’s mom who was also convinced to join eventually. My friends cheered for me as I managed to bring some of the family members along- a dream each and everyone of them aspire to achieve one day!
That day was for writing Khdaer Adnan’s name with our blood. I was as usual a coward who was dragged to the sidewalk by a friend in order to do that, I weeped and teared like little kids while the others laughed at me, but eventually the ‘damage’ was done to my thumb, I signed and later celebrated that mission impossible.
Afterwards, I headed with my very angry new banner towards the cars with Mido who briefly held Khader’s picture ‘I wish I had a photo of that’.
While holding that, I received the same reactions from the people but this time a French journalist ‘Anne’ was there and witnessed the discussion I had with a mini interior security guy who would be one of the future righteous heirs of Abu Saqer the Great and tweeted about it:
That boy came to us trying to explain the crime we’re committing in a friendly -VERY fake- way. He was smiling at us while saying: “You know we are in Gaza. Everything is different here, you can’t just look like this and stand in the street. If you were only wearing hejab, then it would be OK.”
I so wanted to punch him in the face but calmly replied: “So, if I put hejab on, it’ll be OK to be here? You think I’m inappropriate to stand for a cause? Oh, please stop lecturing me about Gaza, I am from here and I know for sure we’re doing nothing wrong. If you had a little bit of dignity, you would’ve been standing right next to us instead of pushing us to go home.”
He didn’t know what to say, mumbled few words and then I later asked him to leave as he perfectly conveyed his sick message.
Right after I headed with the family to a cafe so we can grab a bite and have access to electricity and internet since Gaza is drowning in the dark. While in the car, Mido started yelling: “But wait, where’s Ammo Khader? (kids use this word as in ‘uncle’ to show respect for the elderly) Why isn’t he with us? Is he still in jail?
-We replied: Yes sweetheart.
Mido: But no, we should go get him now. We’ll take the care to the jail and get him out!
His words made me want to cry so bad. I wish it was that simple. I wish the world had some of this purity, just and clarity but it doesn’t. We went to eat and as on every meal, I remember Khader who hasn’t eaten for more than two months. I remember his family and kids who haven’t had him on their dining table for more than two months. I remember them and eat the taste of the humiliation bitterness while he is enjoying the dignity hunger.
Next day, Friday morning, we stayed home because we had storms in Gaza so the ICRC closed its doors and the people of the tent stayed home as well. Later that day, Mido came to me and asked: “Ebaa, why didn’t we go to visit Amo Khader who’s in jail today?” -He meant the tent, and I replied feeling EXTREMELY proud that Mido did not forget about Khader: “Because of the weather, hun. But we’ll go as soon as it gets better. Will you join and carry his picture a little longer than the last time?” -He excitedly agreed.
Khader Adnan is simply the Palestinian Spring while our leaders compete how to shame us in every possible way. I was discussing with a friend two days ago what we really need to recharge and be able to continue doing what we do in the middle of all this madness and depression. We both agreed that that would be the survival of Khader Adnan. This man is out light at the end of the dark tunnel. I believe it will be nice to have a living Palestinian hero since they are all dead now. So, Mr. Khader hang in there and please DO NOT DIE because it is not only about you and the 310 other administrative detention, you give us hope-you are our recharge!
Finally, if you truly believe in this man, then you should send a message to him and his family here: firstname.lastname@example.org.Put your name and location in the subject line. You can write in English, Arabic or any other language.