The name of my husband, Khadar Adnan, has now become known across the world. Four months ago he was unknown outside our homeland, Palestine. His hunger strike of 66 days has transformed him into a global figure and a shining symbol of my people’s struggle.
Our life was turned upside down on 17 December 2011 when Israeli troops raided our home in Araba village, south of Jenin, in the occupied West Bank. It was about 3am when they broke down the doors and stormed into our house. The havoc they wreaked will always remain etched on the minds of our two daughters, Ma’ali, aged four, and Baysan, one-and-a-half years old. I would not be surprised if even our unborn baby will also be affected. Such was the trauma that accompanied the Israeli raid.
Khadar has been an student activist for many years. He is no shadowy figure but an outspoken local leader against the Israeli occupation. He is well known to both the Israeli occupation authorities and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Both have detained him for various periods without charge.
This constant harassment has stood between Khadar and the completion of his master’s degree in economics. Yet, we remain a normal couple, yearning for the much-needed stability and freedom to raise our children; to give them the happiness that is the entitlement of every child. With my own university degree, I have no doubt that as parents, we are well equipped to realise our ambitions. But life under Israel’s military occupation has turned our dream into a nightmare.
Not for the first time, Khadar has used hunger strike, his powerful form of peaceful protest, to great effect. When the Palestinian Authority forces detained him in 2010 he went on a hunger strike for 12 consecutive days, forcing the Ramallah authority to release him.
Likewise, he staged several hunger strikes in the occupation’s detention camps. The last of these was carried out in 2005, which lasted nine days in solitary confinement.
What drives my husband to pursue this dangerous and difficult form of resistance? I have no doubt it is the unjust nature of “administrative detention” and its notorious methods of torture and humiliation. From the moment he was bundled into their military vehicle in December, insults and veiled threats were thrown at him. They even tried to unhinge him psychologically by claiming I was unfaithful, a vicious calumny he dismissed with scorn.
I know my husband well; I love him, and will always remain faithful to him. He knows this and this is why he spurned the cheap talk of his tormentors.
Khadar was never motivated by personal hurt or inconvenience. He, like thousands of other young Palestinians, is determined to see an end to the occupation. He is driven by a higher logic: to expose to the world the plight of imprisoned Palestinians. Since 1967, more than 650,000 Palestinians have passed through Israeli jails – many of them in administrative detention – an average of one in four in the occupied territories.
Administrative detention is a nebulous and vindictive measure used by the occupation against our young men and women. It is one of the cruel legacies of the old British mandate in Palestine. Today, in the absence of any deterrent or condemnation from the international community, Israel uses it with increasing frequency against university students and lecturers, young professionals and even elected parliamentarians. Some 300 are being held. It is part of an immoral policy used to keep Palestinians in a state of perpetual poverty and underdevelopment.
When a military commander issues an order for administrative detention, no evidence is produced. No charges are brought against the victims, and the occupation has no obligation to give reasons for the detention. This is by no means a legal mechanism. It is simply an arbitrary draconian measure used to inflict psychological and physical harm on its victims. When they are fortunate enough to be brought before a judge, he can detain them for periods of six months that can be extended indefinitely. The prisoners problem is so prevalent today that Palestinians have had to create a special ministry for prisoners’ affairs.
I know my husband is not selfish. This is why I supported him every step of the way. As with any devoted wife, I am duty bound to help him bear the burden of our oppressed people. Our relatives and extended family have supported us with equal fortitude. Indeed, I would not be telling a lie if I say that all Palestinians across the whole political spectrum and millions of freedom-loving people in the world have also stood with us.The occupation has decided, under pressure, to free my husband in April, but hundreds more will continue to languish in putrid cells under the same illegal, inhuman scheme. Khadar has, however, delivered his message: that this long night of tyranny and inhumanity will come to an end.
We are well aware that the Israelis may try to renege on this week’s agreement – as they have done with the recent prisoner exchange deal – by re-arresting the freed prisoners. But for every occasion there will be a response, and I have no doubt my husband would not hesitate to resume his stoic struggle with even more strength and determination.
For me, the most difficult part of this ordeal has been the knowledge that at any time I could receive a phone call announcing that my husband is dead. But this is the price for our freedom. It is the indispensable sacrifice needed so that our children might enjoy a life of freedom and dignity.
To the free world, the millions who heard of Khadar and supported him by calling for his release, I extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation.