Activists liken hunger-striker to IRA’s Bobby Sands (JERUSALEM POST) By RUTH EGLASH 02/21/12)
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As Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan begins his 66th day on a hunger
strike Tuesday, comparisons are being drawn with Bobby Sands, a
member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who died in
1981 protesting British rule in Northern Ireland, after spending 66
days refusing food.
Already on Sunday, American singer/songwriter and human rights
activist David Rovics uploaded a song, “Khader Adnan, Bobby Sands,”
onto his YouTube channel.
In its opening lines, Rovics, who has used his music to condemn
Israel’s actions in the Gaza conflict and US involvement in Iraq,
sings: “Khader Adnan grew up near Jenin City/You could say he was a
product of his time/Ever since he was a kid he’d get arrested/ Though
he was never charged with any crime.”
He continues: “They say Khader Adnan is a terrorist/Just like they
said of Bobby Sands/Because he dares speak out against
injustice/Because he dares to make a stand.”
As Rovic’s song comparing Adnan and Sands made social media rounds
Monday, the official Bobby Sands Trust also highlighted Adnan’s
ongoing hunger strike via its website (www.bobbysandstrust.com).
On its home page, the trust’s secretary Danny Morrison called on the
Israeli government to “immediately release Palestinian prisoner
Khader Adnan, who is close to death.”
Morrison wrote: “Here in Ireland the British government’s prime
minister Margaret Thatcher thought that she could break the will of
our struggle by killing our prisoners who were hunger-striking for
their rights as political prisoners.
She was wrong and the violence that the British sewed only reaped a
whirlwind of resistance, but at a heavy cost in Irish and British
lives. The lesson from history is that one must talk and negotiate
and recognize the rights of people to be free and to be free from
injustice and persecution.”
Sands joined IRA in 1972 and spent periods of time in British prisons
throughout the 1970s until being charged in 1976 with involvement in
a deadly bombing. During his time in jail Sands was elected as a
Member of British Parliament and became Officer Commanding of other
He started his hunger strike to protest the treatment of Republican
prisoners and encouraged others to join him.
His death on May 5, 1981 not only inspired Irish Republicans in their
pursuit of freedom from British rule but, according to the trust, has
since become a symbol of human rights around the world.
Gerald Forster, a former Republican paramilitary turned peace
activist, told The Jerusalem Post Monday that people often like to
“When people live in a conflict zone, they seem to fall into the trap
of looking for similarities with their own conflict, but of course
all conflicts have one thing in common: the hurt and pain that
conflicts cause,” he said.
“I now believe it is naïve to compare conflicts. Each conflict has it
own dimensions and those in Ireland who offer support for Khader
Adnan do so in the belief that they are offering empathy to the
Palestinian Struggle as a whole,” said Forster.
However, he said he wondered whether those who sympathize with Adnan
would have had the same sentiments for recently released Israeli
soldier Gilad Schalit if, during his internment by Hamas, he had also
gone on a hunger strike.
Former Loyalist paramilitary Alistair Little also said that he did
not think the situation in Israel or Palestine could be compared to
the 1980 hunger-strikes.
“I think as always there will be a lot of support that will be pure
emotionalism, with little understanding of the complexity of the
Israeli\Palestinian conflict,” commented Little, who is also now a
peace activist for the Beyond Walls Organization. “Concern for the
human rights of Palestinians, but not Israelis, does little to help
those who are living with the human tragedy of conflict on both
Little, who spent 13 years in Maze Prison at the height of Northern
Ireland’s “troubles,” said that often in the midst of a conflict “we
can only see what is done onto ‘us’ and not what we do onto ‘them’ or
the ‘other.’” “No one has a monopoly on suffering when it comes down
to personal pain and loss of loved ones,” he added.
Little pointed out that while the demands of Sands and the other
hunger strikers were met to a degree by the British, many loyalists
at the time remained indifferent to their deaths, believing that
those not concerned about the human rights of those they had murdered
did not deserve sympathy.
Adnan, a leader of militant organization Islamic Jihad, is seen as a
terrorist by Israel.
He started his hunger strike on December 17, when he was arrested and
held without charge by Israeli authorities.
On Monday, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN that
there was solid evidence that Adnan was a threat to Israeli society.
A military court hearing is set for Thursday. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 02/21/12)
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