Sharansky invokes Soviet gulag after Israel upholds force-feeding of prisoners

After Israeli court upholds force-feeding of inmates, Jewish Agency head and former USSR labor camp prisoner says practice is a "form of torture."

By ARIEL WHITMAN
September 12, 2016 17:51
1 minute read.
Sharansky

THEN PRIME MINISTER Shimon Peres greets newly released Prisoner of Zion Natan Sharansky at Ben-Gurion Airport where he was flown from Germany after being freed from a Soviet prison, exactly 30 years ago on Thursday or February 11, 1986.. (photo credit: GPO)

 
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Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, recalled his traumatizing experience being force fed as a political prisoner in the former Soviet Union, after Israel’s High Court of Justice approved force-feeding hunger- striking prisoners.

“I was force fed in Soviet prison at least 35 times,” he said in an interview with Army Radio on Monday.

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“I remember it vividly, I was very weak and I felt like I was going to die. They would ask me if I am willing to eat and when I refused, one guard held me by my feet, another by my head and they would put a long pipe down my throat.

“It was difficult to breathe. They would put inside me a few liters of liquids, probably soup. My heart suddenly started beating very hard and it would hurt. Your body starts to feel like it just wants to stop already.”

“To put it simply, it was very unpleasant,” he said Speaking about Israel’s techniques, Sharansky said he is not “equating Israel and the Soviet Union, but force feeding prisoners is definitely a sort of torture,” adding, “I really hope and am sure that in Israel it is done in a different way.”

Sharansky said he was definitely willing to die in prison.

“When fighting my ideological war for Soviet Jews I made a decision that there are more important things than my physical survival,” he said, adding: “When you start a hunger strike, you go into it knowing that if they break you and you eat, then they will never take you seriously again.”

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