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Thread: BBC challenged for ignoring plight of Palestinian prisoners

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    Default BBC challenged for ignoring plight of Palestinian prisoners

    BBC challenged for ignoring plight of Palestinian prisoners

    Amena Saleem
    The Electronic Intifada
    25 April 2012

    Palestinian political prisoners are on mass hunger strike but you’d never know it from watching the BBC.

    “I had no idea. How could I not have known?”
    I heard those words on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day (17 April) from a teacher, shocked at discovering how Israel abducts, abuses and imprisons Palestinian children — some as young as 12 — in the West Bank because they may or may not have thrown stones atIsrael’s wall.
    She had tagged along with a friend to a talk given in London by Gerard Horton of Defence for Children International–Palestine Section, and until that moment had been unaware of the brutalities of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Horton’s lecture focused on a new DCI-Palestine report which documents the various traumas Palestinian children regularly face during Israeli military detention (“Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted: Children held in military detention,” 14 April 2012).
    The answer to her question is fairly simple: this woman — a member of the educated, professional middle-classes — did not know because she relies on the mainstream media, led by the BBC, for her news. And that media’s silence on the realities of Israel’s occupation is deafening.
    Last week, 1,200 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails began an open-ended hunger strike in protest at the illegalities and injustices of their incarceration. Another 2,300 refused food for the duration of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Their action came just weeks after Khader Adnan ended his 66-day hunger strike and Hana al-Shalabi was released (though banished to Gaza) after refusing food for 43 days, both protesting at Israel’s use ofadministrative detention against them.
    Several other prisoners remain on long-standing hunger strikes, including 27-year-old Bilal Diab and 34-year-old Thaer Halahleh, now into their second month without food.
    Extraordinary feat of resistance

    If this extraordinary, mass feat of unarmed resistance, where more than a thousand men and women are willing to starve themselves to death in the struggle for liberation from an oppressive regime, was taking place in China or Iran — or any other country not behaving in the interests of the West — it would be receiving constant coverage in newspapers and on television. We would be presented with analysis, comment, talking heads, and we would know.
    But these brave men and women are Palestinian, and the oppressive regime is Israel, and so the media’s curtain of self-censorship has been drawn.
    Furious at this lack of coverage, Scottish activists from the We Are All Hana Shalabi Network occupied BBC Scotland headquarters on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day demanding reasons for the blackout (“Report on Glasgow’s BBC occupation and ‘Karamah hunger strike’ march,” We Are All Hana Shalabi Network, 18 April 2012).
    They were eventually met by Ian Small, a senior BBC official, who told them that the BBC aimed its coverage towards a certain demographic.
    “He said that demographic was white-collar and aged over 50,” said Liam O’Hare, an organizer of the protest. “The idea that the BBC aims its coverage towards a certain section of society, when it’s paid for by all licence-fee payers, is a disgrace.”
    Occupying the main lobby of the BBC building, the protestors flew Palestinian flags and shouted: “BBC shame on you, put the prisoners on the news.” Later that day, around 300 demonstrators marched from Glasgow’s George Square to the building.
    “The BBC is complicit in the occupation through its silence,” said O’Hare. “When you see the magnitude of what Palestinian prisoners are prepared to do to challenge Israel’s apartheid, and then look at the media’s blackout of that, you realize its inherent bias.”
    And it’s not just the mass hunger strikes that are kept from us — the mainstream media’s blackout also extends to the weekly peaceful protests by unarmed Palestinians and internationals in villages across the West Bank, protests which demand Israel ends its theft of Palestinian land and which are invariably met with tear gas, skunk water and rubber bullets by the Israeli military.
    Conversely, every time a rocket is fired from the besieged Gaza Strip into southern Israel, the BBC is quick to report, freely adopting Israeli-favored terminology such as “terrorists” and “militants” to describe the Palestinians. Their peaceful, unarmed resistance against their illegal occupation is not, it would seem, newsworthy.
    Violence makes news?

    When the Palestine Solidarity Campaign asked BBC news bosses for the reasoning behind this selective coverage, the answer was “violence makes news.” We pointed out that there is plenty of violence at the weekly protests in the West Bank — it comes from the Israeli forces and results in frequent injuries and sometimes death. In fact, we said, violence by Israel’s military, navy and air force and by Israeli settlers in the West Bank is an everyday feature of life for Palestinians — if violence does, in fact, make news, there’s no shortage of it for the BBC in occupied Palestine.
    The BBC could fill its news bulletins every evening with stories and footage of Israel’s violence against the Palestinians — the shelling and bombing of crowded civilian districts by the military in Gaza, the burning of Palestinian olive groves and torching of mosques in the West Bank by settlers, the house demolitions, with families forced out at gunpoint, inEast Jerusalem.
    But it chooses not to, and the rest of the mainstream media remains similarly silent. Silent, and in denying its audience knowledge of the horrors of the Israeli occupation and the Palestinians’ incredible resistance to it, shamefully complicit.
    Amena Saleem is active with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK and keeps a close eye on the media’s coverage of Palestine as part of her brief. She has twice driven on convoys to Gaza for PSC. More information on PSC is available

    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  2. Default

    Published on Thursday, April 26, 2012 by Common Dreams

    Now Over 2,000 Palestinian Hunger Strikers in Israeli Prisons

    Protesters against indefinite detention without charge, movement grows

    - Common Dreams staff

    The Number of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons has grown to over 2,000 this week as prisoners protest against the use of indefinite detention without charge, known as 'administrative detention', and ill-treatment. More than 300 Palestinians are being held without charge or trial.

    An estimated 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners are currently on open-ended hunger strike. (Mahfouz Abu Turk / APA images)

    Israeli authorities have been punishing those on strike though solitary confinement, the confiscation of personal belongings, transfers and denial of family visits. Now, seven prisoners have been transferred to a prison medical center due to health conditions caused by the strike.
    According to rights groups in the West Bank, more prisoners are preparing to join the protest next week.
    * * *

    The Guardian/UK: More Palestinian prisoners join hunger strike
    Seven prisoners have been transferred to a prison medical centre, including Tha'er Halahleh, 34, and Bilal Diab, 27, who by Thursday had been on hunger strike for 58 days. Their appeals against imprisonment without charge – known as administrative detention – were dismissed by a military court earlier this week.
    The men's condition is rapidly deteriorating, according to Addameer, a prisoners' rights group. It expressed "grave concern that these hunger strikers are not receiving adequate healthcare … and that independent doctors are still being denied visits to them".
    Administrative detention is one of the main issues behind the protest. More than 300 Palestinians – a 50% increase since last year – are being held without charge, trial or even being informed of accusations or evidence against them. Their term of imprisonment is determined by an Israeli military judge. Halahleh has been held for 22 months; Diab since last August. [...]
    Meanwhile, the leader of a West Bank village protest movement was released on bail this week after more than a year in prison before the verdict in his military trial on 13 May. Bassem Tamimi, who has been recognised by the European Union as a "human rights defender", is accused of incitement and organising illegal demonstrations. He has previously spent around three years in administrative detention.
    Palestinians had a duty to resist the Israeli occupation through popular peaceful protest, he told the Guardian after his release. "They have military superiority, but we have moral superiority," he said.
    * * *

    The Electronic Intifada: Mass hunger strike grows despite Israel’s best efforts to repress it
    The Palestinian human rights and prisoner advocacy group Addameer announced today that the mass, open-ended hunger strike in Israeli prisons which began on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, has now grown to an estimated 2,000 participants. Addameer renews its calls for action in support of the hunger striking prisoners.
    Palestinian prisoners are protesting Israel’s practice of administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — as well as solitary confinement, the denial of family visits and access to education, and other punitive measures of Israel’s system of arrest and detention which is designed to break the Palestinian struggle for freedom and liberation. [...]
    The growth of the open-ended hunger strike is despite the Israeli authorities’ punishment of hunger strikers. According to Addameer, “Methods of punishment currently being employed against hunger striking prisoners include attacks on prisoners’ sections; confiscation of personal belongings; transfers from one prison to another; placement in solitary confinement; fines; and denial of family and lawyer visits.” The Israeli authorities are also reported to be confiscating salts for hunger strikers’ water — the only nourishment they are consuming.
    Addameer reports today that hunger strikers include the 19 prisoners who have already been held in solitary confinement, including PFLP leader Ahmad Saadat, who has been held under lockdown for more than three years. According to Addameer, Saadat has already lost 6kg, or approximately 13 pounds.

    "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
    Buckminster Fuller

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