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Helmi Al Barq, Samer's father holding a picture for Samer who has been on an open hunger strike for the past 119 days. pictures by Nasouh Nazzal. Image Credit:

Ramallah: The life of the Palestinian prisoner Samer Helmi Al Barq is in grave danger as a result of his 123 day hunger strike. Israel has agreed to deport Samer on the condition that his family and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) secure a country to host him.

Both his family and the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees’ Affairs have officially urged Egypt to host Samer (whose hunger strike began on May 22) to secure his release, but the Egyptian government has not made a final decision on the matter.

“We seek help from all friendly countries, and Egypt comes on top of our list as Egypt is the closest country to us,” said Helmi Abdul Latif Al Barq, Samer’s father, in an interview with Gulf News.

Samer’s father has stressed that negotiations with the Israeli Prison Service have come to an end, and the fate of Samer totally depends on the willingness of a friendly country to host him.

Samer’s family has addressed his case with the Pakistani authorities to secure him an entry visa to unite with his Pakistani wife. “The Pakistani authorities requested Samer to approach one of its embassies and apply for family visa which will be reviewed and decided about,” said the father. “Samer’s health conditions are extremely bad and he is on the verge of death,” he added.

“If Egyptian approval to host Samer was won, we would secure his release. In Egypt, Samer can apply to the Pakistani embassy for a visa to reunite with his wife,” he said.

Samer’s wife, from the city of Hyder Abad in Pakistan, is doing all she can to secure the approval of Pakistani authorities for the return of her husband, who she has not seen for four years.

Samer is serving his seventh administrative detention order without charge or trial. He has vowed to continue his hunger strike until he is released and reunited with his wife.

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The 38-year-old prisoner, from the village of Jayous, graduated from the Haydar Abad University of Pakistan, receiving his Master’s Degree in Microbiology. Then Samer married a Pakistani woman and secured a Pakistani residency. Samer worked for two years in Karachi as a teacher and started his PhD thesis when he suddenly disappeared for eight months, only to surprisingly reappear in Amman, Jordan.

Helmi said his son did not know where he was kept for those months while his wife searched for him all over Pakistan. “Samer appeared free in Amman for 48 hours at the end of 2003, before he was detained by the Jordanian authorities to serve four and a half years in a Jordanian prison.”

At the beginning of 2008, Samer was released, brought his wife from Pakistan and started his own business. Samer was later shot in his thigh and spent an entire year in a hospital.

“We were officially informed on July 11, 2010 that Samer was in the hands of Israel, where a military court ordered him to serve an administrative detention that was renewed seven times so far,” Helmi says.