Photographs: Murat Bay/Sendika.Org

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and BDS Turkey organized a demonstration in Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square on Saturday, 6 May, with the support of the Solidarity with Prisoners Initiative (TDI), the Human Rights Association (İHD) and the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV), in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons.

1500 Palestinian prisoners launched the hunger strike on 17 April for a series of demands for basic human rights, including an end to the denial of family visits, proper medical treatment and health care, the right to pursue distance higher education and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Since that time, they have consumed only salt and water and face harsh repression from the Israeli prison administration, including denial of family visits and legal visits, frequent abusive transfers, frequent repressive raids on their cells, isolation and confiscation of personal belongings, including the salt necessary to sustain their health. Leaders of the strike, like Marwan Barghouthi, Kamil Abu Hanish, Karim Younes, Ahmad Sa’adat and Abbas Sayyed, have been particularly targeted for isolation.

Photographs: Murat Bay/Sendika.Org

TİHV: We will raise our voice for Palestinian captives

As human rights defenders, the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) understands the plight of the Palestinian people, said the association’s Istanbul representative, Ümit Efe, at the protest, adding that the TİHV condemned the occupying regime’s policies of oppression:

We are closely watching the inhuman treatment of Palestinians in Israeli jails. The occupying regime is continuing its policies of destruction and denial toward the Palestinians with such measures. Just as in Ireland, Italy and Turkey, Palestinian prisoners are embarking upon hunger strikes with salt and water as they have no other tools at their disposal but their bodies. We say that we will raise our voice for them and that we will strengthen our solidarity in an effort to end the policies of destruction and occupation. Let us all remind the doctors that will forcibly intervene in the situation about the great damage that the prisoners on hunger strike are facing and that no intervention can be made without the consent of the patient. When intervention is forced upon those resisting, they develop Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. We will raise the voice of Palestinian prisoners.

Photographs: Murat Bay/Sendika.Org

İHD: Those that resist will say the last word

The destiny of the people in the Middle East is not oppression, even though some see it as fitting, Human Rights Association (İHD) Istanbul Branch member Mine Nazari said. “Those that resist will absolutely have the last word. Today, I salute all prisoners who have offered up their bodies to hunger in Palestine. I want to note once more that we stand next to them. With respect,” she said.

Photographs: Murat Bay/Sendika.Org

TDİ: We salute the resistance of the Palestinians

Solidarity with Prisoners Initiative (TDİ) Spokesperson Gülsev Kaya began her speech with salutations to prisoners on hunger strike.

The month of May is the month of resistance,” said Kaya. “The region is different, but fascism’s attacks are the same. But the resistance of prisoners against these attacks is the same. As the Solidarity with Prisoners Initiative, we salute the resistance of Palestinians in Palestine.”

Photographs: Murat Bay/Sendika.Org

A press statement in Turkish and Arabic on behalf of BDS Turkey and Samidoun was delivered following the speeches.

“The forces of occupation are attacking Palestinian captives”

Mutlu Örs, who delivered the Turkish version of the statement, reminded participants that 1,500 Palestinian prisoners had begun an indefinite hunger strike dubbed the “Freedom and Dignity Strike” on 17 April, the Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners.

Prisoners from nearly every Palestinian political group in the prisons of the occupying Israeli state, particularly the Hadarim, Gilboa and Nafha prisons, are participating in the strike, said Örs.

While serious problems are becoming evident in the health of some captives, the forces of the occupation are resorting to a variety of methods to break the will of the hunger strikers, including physical attacks. While the personal effects and clothes of some prisoners have been confiscated, salt, which is required to continue the hunger strike, is not being provided to prisoners in some prisons,” Örs said.

Photographs: Murat Bay/Sendika.Org

Friends of the Palestinian people everywhere

Despite all these pressures and attacks, the hunger strike is growing, Örs said, noting that arrested PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat had also joined the action.

George Ibrahim Abdallah, a Lebanese revolutionary for Palestine who has been held for close to 30 years in France and whose release has been blocked by the United States, lent support with a three-day hunger strike. From Tunisia to Chile, France to Ireland, Australia and New Zealand to Canada and the USA, many friends of the Palestinian people are sending support to Palestinian prisoners in Zionism’s prisons with protests and activities,” Örs said.

Photographs: Murat Bay/Sendika.Org

“Freedom to all Palestinian prisoners”

Together with supporting groups, we, as BDS Turkey and the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network (Samidoun), salute the Freedom and Dignity Strike from Istanbul,” said Örs.

We repeat that [Palestinian prisoners] are not alone in their struggle and that the true path of showing solidarity with them passes through boycotting all Israeli institutions and severing all ties with the Zionist regime. We especially call for a boycott of the G4S and HP brands which offer ‘services’ to Israeli prisons and are thus partners in their crimes,” Örs said.

Following the press statement, protesters consumed salt and water in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. BDS Turkey is holding its next mobilization for the Palestinian people on Monday, 15 May to commemorate the Nakba; the protest will take place at 7 pm at Levent Metro in Istanbul.

Report from bdsturkiye.org