30 Palestinian prisoners in Megiddo prison are carrying out a solidarity hunger strike with Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed. Kayed, 35, was ordered on Monday to six months in administrative detention by the Israeli occupation military, when he had been scheduled for release after 14 and one-half years in Israeli prison. He launched an open hunger strike demanding his freedom on 15 June.
Palestinian prisoners have launched a campaign of protest in support of Kayed, demanding his immediate release and the cancellation of the administrative detention order against him. All prisoners affiliated with the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Kayed’s political party, carried out the first of several planned two-day hunger strikes on 14 and 15 June; Kayed was the PFLP prisoners’ representative in Megiddo prison before being transferred to solitary confinement for the last year of his imprisonment.
The Handala Center for Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners said that the 30 prisoners in Megiddo view the order against Kayed as an attempt by the occupation to implement a new systematic policy against prisoners at the end of lengthy sentences, and an attempt to impose a policy of fear on prisoners to discourage protest inside the prisons, as Kayed was a known leader in the prisoners’ movement.
A press conference and march will take place on Saturday, 18 June in Bilal Kayed’s home town of Asira al-Shamaliya at 10 pm, with the march beginning at the Asira municipality building, followed by the press conference with Kayed’s family at his home. Protests will also take place in various cities and towns in Palestine and internationally.
The PFLP’s prison branch issued a statement on Kayed’s case and the growing protest, saying that Kayed’s “battle is our battle, and the battle of all of the comrades of the PFLP and all of the Palestinian people. From the first day of the decision of the fascist occupation, we have opened the struggle and protest on June 14 and will continue throughout the month of June and early July, culminating in opening the second phase of the battle: an open hunger strike by all of our comrades in prison after July 7, 2016. We assure that we will not retreat from this battle until we have broken the arrogance of the occupation and its security institutions, and broken this decision, which puts all prisoners at high risk and endangers our people’s rights to freedom, dignity and humanity.”
They called the strike a “historical moment” for the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, saying that the imposition of administrative detention after the completion of his long sentence was a “serious threat to all Palestinian prisoners that we must confront early before it becomes a systematic policy of the occupation.”