On July 8, “Black Solidarity with Palestine,” a coalition of 49 Black organizations and nearly 1,200 individuals, released the following statement in support of Bilal Kayed. Kayed, a prison leader with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has been on an open hunger strike against his “administrative detention” by Israel. His struggle is the focus of protests in Palestine and worldwide, including a current week of global actions coordinated by Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.
Today, on the 44th anniversary of the assassination of the revolutionary Palestinian novelist and activist Ghassan Kanafani, second anniversary of Israel’s last assault on Gaza, the 49th year of ongoing Israeli occupation and the 68th year of Palestinians’ ongoing Nakba [catastrophe], we express our firm solidarity with Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed, who is in the 23rd day of his hunger strike against his indefinite detention by Israel.
Kayed completed a 14.5-year sentence in Israeli prisons and was slated for release on June 13, 2016. Instead, Israeli officials extended his imprisonment for an additional six months without charge or trial, under the Israeli practice of “administrative detention.” Kayed and hundreds of his fellow prisoners are now on hunger strike in protest of this injustice.
As people who live within the belly of a beastly system that thrives off the incarceration of our bodies, we recognize the violence of Israel’s ongoing use of administrative detention to create political prisoners and stifle Palestinian resistance.
Similar to the experience of our Palestinian comrades, the United States government silenced and neutralized our own revolutionary movement through incarceration and targeted assassinations during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. A political war has been waged against our communities as a whole, incarcerating millions of our people and victimizing many through police and state abuse.
This week in particular, we grieve the further loss of Black lives to extrajudicial killings by the state. We express our solidarity in the midst of immense pain because we understand that these violent acts are not “isolated incidents” for us or Palestinians, but systemic to the U.S. and Israel.
In the midst of these wars on our existence, we submit that all of our prisoners are political prisoners, that all Palestinian prisoners are political prisoners, and that we have to fight to liberate everyone by abolishing the cages around us. We stand firm in our solidarity with Bilal Kayed and the over 7,000 Palestinians detained within the Israeli prison system, including more than 750 Palestinians being held without charge or trial.
Bilal, we salute you and your comrades struggling against incarceration and for the liberation of Palestine. We send you the solidarity of roughly a dozen of our own political prisoners from the Black Panther Party, Black Liberation Army and other struggles — including Mumia Abu-Jamal; Sundiata Acoli, comrade of the revolutionary Assata Shakur; and Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, the Minister of Defense for the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, Prison Chapter.
We will not remain silent so long as the Palestinian people are subjected to the daily violence of administrative detention and political imprisonment. We will stand by them so long as their resistance to the racist and colonial violence perpetuated by the state of Israel continues. We will continue to demand an end to the myriad systems of Israeli oppression until every Palestinian can live without fear of losing their home, their land, their family to state violence. We refuse to believe that peace will only come at the expense of justice.
United we fight against prisons, united we fight for Palestine, and united we fight for the people.