Hunger striker in critical condition in Israeli jail
Published Thursday, July 5, 2012
Two human rights groups have launched an urgent appeal for the release of a Palestinian man on his 85th day of a hunger strike in an Israeli jail.
Akram Rikhawi has been refusing food since April 12 over Israel's refusal to release him despite long-standing medical conditions including diabetes and asthma.
In a joint statement Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) and the prisons' charity Addameer warned on Thursday, a day after a doctor visited him, that Rikhawi's health was deteriorating rapidly.
A statement said the PHR-Israel doctor had discovered an "alarming deterioration of Akram’s asthma, which continues to be unstable," adding that he believed "Akram has been given very high doses of steroids as treatment, which can cause severe long-term and irreversible damage."
"Akram also reported that he is experiencing severe dizziness, can no longer walk and is having difficulty standing. Even more troubling, Akram has not been given any assistance in these matters, leaving him vulnerable to the danger of falling, which could result in fatal injury due to his osteoperosis," the statement added.
Rikhawi is currently serving a nine-year sentence for supporting suicide bombers, a charge he allegedly confessed to after being tortured.
Addameer said during his interrogation Rikhawi had been stripped naked and put in a room with dogs to scare him into confession.
The Palestinian, originally from the town of Rafah, is calling for his early release due to his severe medical conditions
As punishment for his hunger strike, he has been isolated from other prisoners and had his books confiscated.
The two charities called on Israel to release Rikhawi on humanitarian grounds, and to grant his family access to him while he remains lucid.