Bilal Kayed is on his sixteenth day of open hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention without charge or trial, following the expiration of his 14.5 year sentence in Israeli prisons on 13 June. Kayed and his comrades in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as well as Palestinian prisoners across political lines, are engaged in an escalating series of protests demanding Kayed’s immediate release. His case is seen as threatening a dangerous precedent of the indefinite administrative detention of Palestinian prisoners following the expiration of lengthy sentences.
Palestinian prisoners have emphasized that they are “continuing their escalating steps in solidarity with the prisoner Bilal Kayed on hunger strike, according to their announced schedule of protest up to an open hunger strike.” Reports that prisoners have “suspended” or “postponed” their protest steps are incorrect and inaccurate; hundreds of prisoners are engaged collectively in a series of limited-term hunger strikes leading up to a planned open hunger strike in early July if Kayed remains imprisoned. Hundreds of prisoners will engage in a three day hunger strike this weekend, 1 July through 3 July, demanding Kayed’s freedom.
He will face an Israeli military court for the confirmation of the administrative detention order against him on 5 July. There are over 700 Palestinians held in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence. Administrative detention orders are “confirmed” by an Israeli military court, and are issued for one to six months at a time; they are indefinitely renewable. Kayed refused to attend the previous confirmation hearing, stating his rejection of the military courts as illegitimate.
Kayed’s brother, Mahmoud, and sister, Suha, have released video statements calling on Palestinian, Arab and international forces to act in support of Kayed. Over 150 international organizations – and now 20 Brazilian political parties, unions, and women’s and student organizations – have joined the call for Kayed’s release, and many events have been organized in cities around the world in support of his case.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges continued and escalating solidarity efforts, protests, and organizing to demand Kayed’s freedom. Samidoun also cautions international readers to be skeptical and cautious regarding media reports of “suspensions” or other limitations of the prisoners’ struggle; incorrect reports can discourage and hinder the organizing that is necessary to support the prisoners whose bodies and lives are on the lines behind bars.