Around 100 Jordanian and Arab activists, artists and intellectuals gathered outside the US embassy on Sunday in solidarity with Jordanian and Palestinian prisoners who are on hunger strike.
Nearly 1,600 Palestinian prisoners are currently refusing food in a wide-ranging protest against solitary confinement, detention without charge and restrictions on family visits, education and other privileges, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
The strike has drawn international attention, with the EU and UN expressing concern. Two of the prisoners, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla, have not eaten in over 70 days, according to AFP.
Organised by the Jordanian Committee to Support Prisoners in the Zionist Entity (i.e., Israel), the demonstration was designed to express outrage over what protesters described as the “inhuman” conditions prisoners are facing in Israeli jails.
George Jazrawi, a member of the committee, said the demonstrators wanted to send a message to the US.
“The US is part of the conspiracy against Palestinians,” he added.
During the demonstration, protesters chanted slogans expressing support for the prisoners and denouncing the stance of the US towards the issue.
Also, a group of Jordanian artists performed a piece of street theatre illustrating the conditions prisoners are facing in Israeli jails.
Juliette Awwad, the renowned Jordanian actress who supervised the show, said it was designed to send a message to the US and the world.
“Since the US is concerned over the rights of people and prisoners, where have they been in the case of these prisoners? Perhaps freedom exists only for some people and not for prisoners,” Awwad told The Jordan Times.
Abdullah Abu Hantash, a university student, said the Palestinians in Israeli jails were prisoners of war and should be treated decently.
“Placing prisoners in solitary confinement and preventing them from seeing their families is unfair,” he told The Jordan Times outside the embassy.
Meanwhile, several committees, such as the Jordan Engineers Association’s freedom committee, have been demonstrating daily in a tent outside the Professional Associations Complex since the beginning of this month in solidarity with the prisoners, according to Mazin Malas, an organiser who spent six years in Israeli jails.
Jordanians, including prisoners’ relatives, visit the tent daily to express support for the prisoners.
Several Jordanians have also begun their own hunger strike to put more pressure on concerned parties to help prisoners in Israeli jails, according to Malas.
“Some of them have been on hunger strike for seven days,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone Sunday.
He called on the Jordanian government to cancel the 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
“The peace treaty stipulates exchanging prisoners and Israel has not done that, although there are Jordanian prisoners in Israeli jails, so the government should cancel the peace treaty,” he said.
Malas added that the Jordanian embassy in Israel should work to improve the conditions Jordanian prisoners are living in and secure their release.
Syrian actress Anaheed Fayyad, who has been on hunger strike for five days in solidarity with the prisoners, said that when she visited the tent at the beginning of this month, she was moved by the families’ situation.
“When I went there, I was shocked because there were so few people in the tent, so I decided to go on hunger strike in solidarity with the prisoners. This is the least I can do for them,” Fayyad said over the phone.
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