Tampa vigil for hunger-striking Palestinian journalist

Palestine flag
A demonstrator waves the flag of Palestine. By Janelle Irwin/WMNF News (Nov. 2012).

A Palestinian journalist on hunger strike in an Israeli jail is in failing health and activists in Tampa are organizing a vigil Tuesday evening to call attention to the case of Muhammad Al Qiq.

Dezeray Lyn, an organizer with Block the Boat Tampa, thinks some of those consequences if Al Qiq dies could include an escalation of violence that has rocked the West Bank in recent months.

Listen to the interview here; transcript below:

The emergency vigil begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at 4004 North Riverside Drive in Tampa – near the Hillsborough River north of Martin Luther King Jr. Bouleveard.

WMNF News asked G4S for an interview but did not get a response. G4S is the same private company that oversees security at a Tampa juvenile detention facility. It suspended four employees without pay after two teens escaped recently.

Watch the interview:

“Muhammad Al Qiq is a 33 year old journalist from the Ramallah area in Palestine. He was arrested in November of last year. The charges that they are holding him on is secret evidence of incitement against Israel and under those–that secret evidence they’ve been holding him on and him subjected to an interrogation for over 20 days. He wasn’t able to see his lawyer until the 20th day and he was subjected to torture during the interrogation. And on the 25th of November he launched a hunger strike, which is now in its 70th day.”

And his health is failing, and there was a hearing in the Israeli Supreme Court today.

“Yeah, there was a hearing. He was denied release on the basis that he’s not unconscious yet. He’s in critical condition. He could die at any moment. After 70 days of hunger strike, it’s very critical. He could literally, his organs could shut down at any second. He’s no longer able to verbally communicate. His eyes have gone all red and he’s in very, very, very detrimental physical condition right now.”

This isn’t the first time a Palestinian prisoner, in Israeli jails, has gone on hunger strike recently.

“No, there have numerous Palestinian, I mean, there’s hunger strike solidarity hunger strikes happening right now with Palestinian prisoners in solidarity with Muhammad. But, Khader Adnan, Muhammad Allan, more recently have been, you know, engaged in hunger strike activities to gain their liberation against these human rights crushing administrative detention, British mandate, you know, dinosaur of a law, that their holding them on.

“So, Israel is trying to play a game with him and seeing how long they can hold out and they’re having him on the brink of death and seeing if he will break his hunger strike. In my opinion, just not to send a message to people that hunger striking will gain their liberation.”

There’s an action today in Tampa.

“Yeah. There’s an emergency vigil tonight at a G4S facility. G4S is all over the world. It’s a British security firm. They provide equipment and services to five Israeli interrogation facilities and prisons.

“It’s at 4004 N. Riverside Drive in Tampa. And it’s tonight at 6:15 – 7:30 p.m. We’re trying to have an emergency vigil to let people know that we have our eyes on this case. We’re watching what’s going on and there will consequences if he dies.”

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