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MRN Press Statement: A call on SA government to deploy team of experts

The Media Review Network notes with alarm the rapidly deteriorating conditions in which Palestinian hunger strikers find themselves.

We note too that Netanyahu’s rightwing regime has displayed disdain and utter contempt for the legitimate rights of these courageous strikers. Their rights as indeed the rights of all political prisoners are enshrined in international law and the Geneva Conventions in particular.

The reckless disregard of fundamental human rights and dignity which Israel has adopted as a means to punish the striking prisoners is deplorable, irrational and in direct violation of civilised values.

We also find it inexplicable that while the plight of Palestinian hunger strikers is in the full glare of worldwide media attention, the United Nations remains muted. While symbolic solidarity hunger strikes have and are being undertaken globally, organs of international humanitarian law appear to be unmoved.

The disconnect between institutions such as the UN, the European Court of Human Rights, the International Criminal Court and worldwide outrage against Israel’s barbaric treatment of the prisoners is a sad indictment on the bias against justice which Palestinians are striving for.

Clearly it appears that these institutions are failing in their respective duties to hold Israel to account. We find this state of affairs despicable and prejudicial to the legitimate demands of the Palestinians. We condemn their silence and believe that it is a contributing factor which allows Israel to continue abominable inhumane policies.

In applauding the spontaneity of a host of senior parliamentarians and cabinet ministers of the ruling ANC government whereby they participated in #DignityStrikeSA, we believe the power of their symbolic #SaltWaterChallenge has been a major boost for the morale of the strikers and their families.

We further hold the view that these senior leaders within government are able to do much more. One of the expectations we have of the South African government is that it urgently deploys a team to conduct an investigation of the prisoners’ conditions.

Though it predictably may ruffle Israeli feathers and may not be provided access to the prisoners, we believe that the mere assembly of a team, comprising of health practitioners, international law experts and media will demonstrate the seriousness whereby the SA government views the just cause of the hunger strikers.

Until and unless the unconditional release of all Palestinian political prisoners is secured as a matter of extreme urgency, Israel will continue to face the anger and wrath of South Africans.

As has been evident in recent days when the May 15th #DignityStrikeSA campaign attracted widespread sympathy and solidarity, we call on SA NGOs, human rights formations and government officials to redouble their valiant efforts.


Iqbal Jassat

Exec Member: Media Review Network


South Africa

Iqbal Jassat