On Friday 11 January UK activists protested outside the BBC headquarters in London at the corporation‘s relative silence on the plight of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Samer Al-Issawi was on his 171st day refusing food, non-violently protesting his illegal detention without trial by Israel.
The BBC, a publicly funded broadcaster, has largely refused to cover the story. In a response to complaints made by members of the public and Palestinian solidarity groups, the BBC’s Head of News, Helen Boaden, refused to acknowledge any bias by omission and set out the editorial criteria that would deem the Palestinians newsworthy. Criteria not applied to the wide coverage on the BBC’s networks of hunger strikers in Bahrain and the Ukraine.
Mass Palestinian hunger strikes broke out following Khader Adnan’s non-violent action to refuse to accept food in December 2011, to protest his detention without trial by Israel. Last year over 2,000 Palestinian prisoners joined Adnan, bringing to the attention of the world the illegal practice of administrative detention deployed by Israel against Palestinians.
Israel regularly arrests Palestinians under the guise of security, holding them indefinitely on ‘secret information’ without charge or allowing them to stand trial, in the procedure known as administrative detention.
Al-Issawi is now on his 176th day on hunger strike and in a critical condition having lost over half his body weight. He has been charged with no crime. ISM London stands in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners and calls on the BBC to end its complicity with the illegal Israeli occupation, and to let the British public hear the truth.