President of the United States Barak Obama
The White House
Dear Mr. President,
My name is Sandra Twang. I am a 56 year old woman who lives in a very small rural village in central New York. I am writing to inform you that I am on a hungerstrike. I have almost finished my second day. I have eaten nothing for 2 days and I plan to continue unless something is done about the gross oppression and genocide of the Palestinian peoples.
I learned of Palestine only a few years ago and have been educating myself on the subject since. What I learned has created such pain in my heart for these people that I can no longer bear it. What is even more painful is my governments active participation in this genocide by providing 3 billion dollars a year to the government of Israel, military hardware, and the most heionous provision , a blind eye to this genocide of an entire people..
In all instances the United States has stepped away from its legal responsibility to denounce this incredible theft of land and the building of Jewish only settlements pushing the Palestinians into smaller and smaller enclaves which are rapidly becoming open air prisons with the building of an apartheid wall , hundreds of checkpoints and Israeli only roads.
The gross treatment of the Palestinians and the neglect of recognition of their human rights is appalling. Their mobility is limited and defined by a government which seems to me to have no understanding of international law. Their children are stolen from their beds in the middle of the night, by the Israeli Defense Forces who then take them to prison to be interrogated and many times tortured. Many as young as 12 years old. Their parents are not allowed to accompany them and their is no legal counsel provided. Non-violent protestors, human beings confronting the building of 30 ft cement prison walls around their entire villages , many the only way out through a gateway which is a checkpoint with IDF soldiers attending. A curfew set for when they can leave and when they must return by. Many Palestinians are farmers, their olive groves on the other side of this prison wall, unable to access them unless the Israeli government allows , cutting them off from their only source of income. Many non violent palestinian protestors have been killed while exercising their right to protest these injustices, as has our own youth Rachael Corrie, whose death was dismissed and given no dignity for her incredible sacrifice in her fight to protect the Palestinians
Then there is the story of Gaza , an enclave totally surrounded by prison walls. The people of Gaza cannot leave Gaza they are truly prisoners. In December 2008 thru January 2009 the Israeli government bombed this enclave for 22 days killing killing more then 1387 people , 320 were children under the age of 18, 107 were women and 773 were civilians only 330 took part in the hostilities. ( B’Tselem’s investigation which is an Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories).
Because Gaza is totally surrounded by a razor wire and a prison wall there was no place for the civilians to go. Both Israel and Egypt blocked all crossings , and there are no bomb shelters in Gaza because the Israeli government will not allow cement into Gaza. The severe oppression of Gaza is so horrendous that international activists and human rights organizations around the world have tried to break this horrible seige and blockade . The people of the world are aware of this crime and because of a lack of response by the governments have taken it upon themselves as human rights defenders to attempt to break this blockade.
.The atrocities in Gaza are particularly grotesque in that they involve the random firing of missiles into urban areas , the shooting of farmers whose land lies close to the prison wall , shooting at fisherman who dare to go out beyond 3 miles from their shore . These atrocities go on and on year after year with the international community doing nothing. I am ashamed to say that my country inparticular has acted in a most agrevious way in its veto any any UN response in holding Israel for its crimes.
But now I want to tell you what drove me to this hunger strike. There is a young woman, Hanaa Shalabi, now imprisoned in Hasharon Prison in Israel. She was arrested on February 16, 2012 and is being held under what is called administrative detention. She is not allowed to know what she is accused of , to examine any of the evidence against her, thereby rendering her capability for due process null and void. She was only released from prison 4 months ago from administrative detention of 2 years. She was arrested from her home, violated by the arresting soldiers who beat her and provided no information to her why she was being arrested. She has protested her arrest and the unjust legal system refusal to allow her due process by going on a hunger strike. She is as I write this 36 days into her strike and dying ,
with the Israeli government , cold heartedly refusing to answer her charges of illegal detainment and freeing her.
There are more then 300 Palestinians at this time being held under this type of detainment. Many are on hungerstrike demanding their right to due process.
I cannot believe that my country allows this type of international crime and continues to support a corrupt government who has no respect for international law or respects human rights laws or due process.
My heart cries for her but in the same breath her courage is breath taking and I feel that I cannot abandon her and if I do not join her then I would be as guilty as those who are taking her life. My own governments silence in this fills me with fear of who we are. Our silence screams criminality in our continued support of Israeli crimes against these brave people.
So , I am letting you know that I will continue not to eat until you , Mr. Obama , address this issue with a heart and a respect for international and human rights laws. The Palestinian people have a beautiful culture and are very intelligent. Their problem is they have no say and have not for some time of their own destiny . If Israel is allowed to continue with these crimes I fear for the Palestinians , because I do not know what happens to a people who are forced to live under such severe oppression generation after generation.
Respectfully and with high hopes,
Sandra Rose Twang