Beirut – Lebanese detainees arrested on terrorism charges in Lebanese prisons launched their “empty stomachs” campaign and began their open hunger strike until their demands are met and a general amnesty is issued leading to their release.
Sheikh Khaled Hoblos, detained in Roumieh Prison, declared a mass hunger strike at Lebanese prisons on Saturday with the participation of 850 prisoners of several prisons.
The announcement for the strike came through an audio clip of Hoblos released from prison where he announced “a hunger strike to demand a general amnesty” urging the prison administrations not to force inmates to end their hunger strike, deeming it “a right guaranteed by the law.”
He asked politicians to grant prisoners an amnesty aside from any political motives, he also called on Prime Minister Saad Hariri to prioritize Lebanon’s national interest.
Meanwhile, a Lebanese security source confirmed that hundreds of detainees had indeed begun their strike and refused to receive their daily meals.
The source told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the number of prisoners participating in the strike reached 575 out of 600, 200 from Tripoli prison in the north, and about 60 others from Jezzine prison, south Lebanon. He added that prison administration began monitoring the prisoners and is following up on their medical situation.
Prior to the strike, families of inmates blocked the roads and began protests to press for general amnesty at the beginning of the presidency of President Michel Aoun.
The source pointed out that only detainees arrested for terrorist cases participated in the strike, whereas other inmates involved in theft, murder, and financial crimes didn’t join the strike.
However, prison officials advised the strike participants to end it because of the damage it could cause them. The source said that prison pharmacies have provided the medicines required for the sick inmates, adding that some inmates had few snacks like cookies, chocolate, and juices which they had previously bought from the shop in the prison. He stated that the snacks could help them for a while but surely won’t substitute for the meals.
Hundreds of inmates are imprisoned for security crimes and they are accused of belonging to terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Nusra Front, and Abdullah Azzam brigades. They are trialed for the cases: the 2007 battle between Lebanese Army and Fateh Islam organization led by Jordanian Shaker al-Absi in Bared River Camp in 2007, incidents in Ersal between the Army and ISIS and Nusra which erupted in August 2014, and Abra incidents in Saida between Army and supporters of Ahmed al-Asir in June 2013.