Nearly 700 prisoners in the regime-controlled Hama Central Prison went on a hunger strike last week to protest harsh sentences recently handed down to 45 prisoners involved in revolutionary activity, ranging from execution to life, reported UK-based al-Araby al-Jadeed over the weekend.
The sentences are random, “they occur without hearings,” Jawad al-Hamawi, the Hama-based director of the pro-opposition Hama Revolutionaries Union, a grassroots network of activists, tells Noura Hourani.
Q: What’s the latest from inside the prison?
“The hunger strike is ongoing until now. There have been attempts to break it by way of threats, and by getting food [to the prisoners] through the Hama Charitable Organization for Social Care.”
Q: Orders were given to break the strike with bullets—why wasn’t that implemented?
“Because of the intervention of aid organizations and the Red Cross, who pushed to break the strike without the use of force. Still, striking prisoners have already been sentenced to death and others to life in prison.”
Q: How are prisoners sentenced in the Hama Central Prison—are there normal court hearings, with lawyers for the accused?
“The rulings are random; they occur without hearings. Defense lawyers are not appointed. An officer decides all of the sentences, which are then handed down by the head of the Terorrism Court, Ridha Musa.”