Beirut – Lebanese extremist prisoners accused of terrorism suspended their hunger strike till after Ramadan month after a week of “empty stomachs” battle which was launched by 900 prisoners demanding general amnesty. Health conditions of dozens of inmates suffering from chronic diseases have deteriorated and they refused to take their medications.
Prisoners across Lebanon have been on hunger strike for six days.
The strike was suspended after Minister of Interior Nohad Machnuok announced he was tasked by Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian to form a committee to oversee prisoners’ demands.
Security sources informed Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the efforts were successful following a series of meetings held between inmates’ representatives and Machnouk’s adviser.
The sources added that the prisoners received confirmations that their case will be reviewed after a new electoral law has been set.
“The prisoners were comforted by the interior ministry’s efforts and Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk’s remarks at Dar al-Fatwa,” Adviser to the Interior Minister for Prison Affairs Brig. Gen. Munir Chaaban stated.
There are over 1500 detainees of the “Islamist inmates” in all Lebanese prisons, several of which have been held without a trial and others remain in detention for years exceeding their sentences.
The committee that the interior minister was tasked with forming includes members from Dar al-Fatwa and lawyers to follow up on the prisoners’ cases.
Minister Machnouk stated that both PM Hariri and Mufti Derian asked him to inform families they are trying to reach general amnesty that achieves justice to all prisoners, which will relieve all families whether in Saida, Beirut, or Tripoli.
He stated that Grand Mufti Derian met with President Michel Aoun and discussed inmates’ issue, adding that the meeting was positive.
Days before Islamist prisoners began their strike, other prisoners also demanded general amnesty and began a sort of riot which was suspended later and none joined the “empty stomachs” campaign.
Minister Machnouk confirmed that a committee will be formed within days, but he explained that general amnesty demands a certain political atmosphere which is not currently available since the priority is to agree on an electoral law.
A source at the committee of inmates’ families told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Minister’s statement wasn’t comforting because he spoke in general. The source expressed his concerns that forming a legal committee to examine the amnesty demands would take years and some information stated that certain cases will not be included within the pardon.
Earlier, Mufti Derian and a representative from the ministry of interior visited Roumieh Prison.
A general amnesty request must be put forward by the interior and justice ministers and would also require approval by President Aoun.