Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network extends its thanks and greetings to the city and people of Naples, its mayor Luigi De Magistris and city councillor Mario Copetto and the council group “Napoli in Comune a Sinistra” (Naples Common Left) for their principled and committed solidarity with Palestinian hunger-striking prisoner Bilal Kayed at this critical time.
On 5 August, Mayor De Magistris signed an order granting Kayed honorary citizenship of Naples, Italy’s third-largest city with over four million residents. The order expresses the solidarity of the city of Naples with Bilal Kayed and his fellow Palestinian prisoners subject to administrative detention and unjust imprisonment; it was adopted unanimously with two abstentions.
This statement of honorary citizenship is not simply a symbolic act of solidarity, although it is a powerful one, especially as Bilal Kayed’s life stands at stake, as he is shackled to his hospital bed. It is a testament that stands against the framework of criminalization, exclusion and isolation imposed upon Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people and their resistance by the Israeli settler-colonial state and its allies and backers in the United States and European governments.
Bilal Kayed has been on hunger strike since 15 June in protest of his administrative detention without charge or trial, imposed upon him on the day he was to be released from Israeli prison after completing a 14.5 year sentence. As he approaches 70 days of hunger strike, international solidarity with Kayed is critical to supporting his struggle for freedom. Protests, events and actions around the world have taken to the streets to in support of his struggle, just as over 100 prisoners have joined his hunger strike for freedom, recognizing his case as one that threatens a dangerous precedent for all prisoners.
Honorary citizenships for Palestinian prisoners have been issued in other cities and towns, including multiple French and Italian cities and towns that have extended the honor to Marwan Barghouthi and Majdi al-Rimawi, as well as those who have honored Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, imprisoned in French prisons for 32 years.
Samidoun urges all communities and municipalities to follow in the path of the Nablus mayor, city council and local organizers by campaigning for Bilal Kayed to be named an honorary citizen of cities and towns around the world. This action is a powerful statement of solidarity that affirms the legitimacy of Palestinian resistance and rejects the isolation of imprisonment.
A letter from Mahmoud Kayed, Bilal Kayed’s brother, to the Naples municipality follows:
On behalf of the family of Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed, on hunger strike for 68 days and held without charge our trial, we express our sincere gratitude for the solidarity and support shown to our brother and his struggle by the Naples City Council. The decision to honor Bilal with an honorary citizenship is one that carries deep meaning, from Italy’s third-largest city, Naples, to us here in Nablus, occupied Palestine.
We thank the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, Mario Coppeto and Napoli in Comune a Sinistra, and the people of Naples for proposing and affirming this honorary citizenship. When our brother is held without charge or trial under administrative detention by an occupying power after 14.5 years in prison and the completion of his sentence, it is critical that international voices break the silence about Bilal and his 7,000 fellow Palestinian prisoners.
This gesture of welcome and support from the city of Naples is felt deeply not only in our hearts, but in Bilal’s heart. It challenges the system of administrative detention and breaks the isolation imposed on Bilal. Once again, we thank you and the people of Naples for your solidarity and for raising your voices of conscience toward freedom and justice for Bilal and his comrades.
Brother of Bilal Kayed
Proclamation of Honorary Citizenship of Bilal Kayed in Naples: