Hunger Strikes by Ahmad Barclay, Hani Asfour, Nader Tfayli, and Joumana Al Jabri
In 2012, over 2,400 Palestinian Prisoners mounted a hunger strike against the Israeli military for detention without trial. –Hunger Strikes' was created as one Palestinian administrative detainee, Khader Adnan, concluded the second month of a 66-day total voluntary fast. Adnan's story quickly captured Arab public interest, but coverage by the Western press was comparably limited and often presented in the narrow context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Visualizing Palestine (VP) team wanted to bring the attention of the world to what a hunger striker goes through in pursuit of justice and dignity. The hunger strike is both an extreme feat of human physical and mental endurance and an abiding tool of non-violent political protest used all over the world throughout history.
The VP research team turned to medical journals featuring studies of imprisoned and hospitalized hunger strikers to learn more about what a hunger strike means for the body. Based on documented medical evidence, they were able to make sense of the deteriorating physical and mental health of hunger strikers with each passing day and week. In parallel, they collected wide-ranging stories of other prominent hunger strikes throughout history, from Mahatma Ghandi to Bobby Sands.
The designers of the infographic adopted a timeline format, allowing for the integration of personal and historical perspectives. Thus, the timeline shows the story of the health sacrifices and suffering of an individual striker, while also speaking to the universal quality of hunger strikes by recalling prominent past episodes from around the world. The concluding quote, a statement from the 1989 mass hunger strike in Tiananmen Square, China, aimed to frame the actions of hunger strikers in their own words. While a hunger strike can be portrayed as simply an extreme or misguided act of an individual, it should be understood in a much broader context of social struggle.
–Hunger Strikes' was released on the day Khader Adnan ended his total voluntary fast. Visualizing Palestine relied on social media and word-of-mouth to share its debut work, since the fledgling collective had not yet established a solid platform or following. Even so, the response to the infographic was overwhelming; in the span of the first 24 hours, –Hunger Strikes' had been seen by 15,000 people.