Palestinian political prisoners shake the walls for hunger striker Bilal Kayed
Nine Palestinian political prisoners launched hunger strikes in solidarity with “administrative detainee” Bilal Kayed on Aug. 7, joining over 100 others on strike since July 31.
Strikers include Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned general secretary of Kayed’s party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. After starting his fast on July 31, Sa’adat was immediately punished by Israeli jailors with a transfer to solitary confinement.
Hundreds more prisoners announced plans to join a one-day strike inside Nafha, Ramon, Ktziot and Hadarim prisons on Aug. 9.
In France’s Lannemezan Prison, imprisoned Lebanese fighter Georges Abdallah and six other Arab and Basque prisoners held a three-day fast starting Aug. 3.
On Aug. 8, supporters launched solidarity hunger strikes in a protest tent outside the International Committee of the Red Cross office in Gaza.
Kayed, detained under Israel’s “administrative detention” law, will reach the 70th day of his own hunger strike on Aug. 23. He has been imprisoned by Israel for 14 ½ years for participating in resistance activities during the second Intifada. On June 13, the date of his scheduled release, Israel refused to free him, instead slapping him with an “administrative detention” order.
This arbitrary decree, issued by an Israeli military commander, sentences him to six more months’ imprisonment without charge or trial. Since commanders can renew these orders an unlimited number of times, Kayed has effectively been interned indefinitely. In response, he launched a hunger strike on June 15 to demand his freedom.
Many Palestinians fear Israel will use Kayed’s precedent to hold more Palestinian political prisoners with expiring sentences. Israel currently incarcerates 750 “administrative detainees” among 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners overall.
On Aug.11, Israel’s supreme court ruled that a legal appeal for Kayed’s release would not even be heard until Oct. 5, nearly four months after he began his strike. The PFLP called the court’s decision “a death sentence.” (english.palinfo.com)
Palestinian attorney Sahar Francis, director of the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, was able to visit Kayed the same day. The organization, which serves as Kayed’s legal counsel, reported its client faces intimidation from his jailors: “For example, he was surrounded by 25 armed police officers even though he is shackled with his right hand and left foot to his bed.” (addameer.org, Aug. 11)
Kayed refuses treatment
Earlier, Addameer reported Kayed “is still shackled to his bed with his right hand and left foot. He is suffering from pain in his chest, kidney, jaw, eyes, ears and legs, as well as severe headache. He also suffers from blurred vision, numbness throughout the body and hair loss, as well as yellowness and peeling of the skin.” Kayed said the director of Israel’s Barzilai Hospital, where he is detained, warned that he would be “forcibly treated” if he loses consciousness. (addameer.org, Aug. 8)
Kayed refuses to accept any treatment, including examinations, and requests transfer from the medical center, where he was sent on July 17.
“I am demanding my immediate return to prison despite my deteriorating health conditions, to stand in one front and on one line in the prison cells of the occupation, side by side with all of the revolting prisoners, raising our loud voice: Your decision will not pass easily!” he wrote in a letter to his supporters on Aug. 1.
“What I have received from you through your struggles, your sit-ins, your demonstrations, gives me more determination to continue forward until victory,” he continued. “Either freedom or martyrdom.” (samidoun.net)
Samidoun: Palestinian Political Prisoner Solidarity Network has asked supporters to call the White House at 1-202-456-1111 to demand that President Barack Obama, as the representative of Israel’s biggest international funder, intercede for Kayed’s immediate release.
The group has held six protests for Kayed in New York, including a march through Grand Central Terminal and the lobbies of two buildings holding offices of the British-Danish security company G4S on Aug. 12, and other demonstrations in Beirut, Brussels, The Hague and Montreal.
Kayed and other prisoners affiliated with the PFLP have called on supporters to target G4S, a key contractor for Israel’s prisons, asking on Aug. 7 that they “take up the campaign to defend the prisoners through the international boycott of the occupation and its institutions, and boycott of its complicit corporations, led by the G4S security corporation.” (pflp.ps)
The next of Samidoun’s weekly protests in Manhattan will start at 4 p.m. on Aug. 19 outside the G4S office at 19 West 44th St.
Announcements and reports of events elsewhere, as well as news on Kayed and other Palestinian political prisoners, are posted online at samidoun.net.
Catron is a member of Al-Awda New York: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition and an organizer with Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.