Irish senator calls for government pressure to release Bilal Kayed, end administrative detention

Irish Senator Paul Gavan (Sinn Fein) highlighted the case of Bilal Kayed today, 30 June, in the Seanad (Irish Senate), urging the government to condemn Israel’s policy of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial based on secret evidence.

Kayed is one of over 700 Palestinian prisoners held without charge or trial; his 14.5 year sentence in Israeli jails expired on 13 June. Rather than release, he was instead ordered to administrative detention for six months. Administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable, issued for one to six month periods at a time.

Bilal Kayed has been on hunger strike since 15 June, demanding his immediate release. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are engaged in solidarity protests, noting that Kayed’s case threatens a dangerous precedent of indefinite administrative detention of Palestinian prisoners following the expiration of lengthy sentences. Over 150 Palestinian and international organizations have come together to urge action on Kayed’s case; during international days of action, multiple actions took place in Dublin, Galway, as well as Belfast in the north of Ireland. Irish organizations including the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association, and Irish republican socialist political party eirigi, have organized actions in support of Kayed’s freedom.

There is a lengthy history in the Irish struggle against British occupation of hunger strikes against political imprisonment and internment; Palestinian and Irish prisoners and movements have expressed solidarity with one another over decades of struggle for freedom.

Senator Gavan said:

“Today, we are calling on the government to demand the release of Bilal Kayed, a 34 year old Palestinian Activist, who is imprisoned by Israel’s military occupation authorities.

“Bilal was imprisoned for being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; an organisation banned by Israel and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

“Earlier this month on June 13th he was set for release; however, the Israeli military occupation authorities have now extended his sentence by a further six months using the “Administrative Detention” policy.

“In protest, Bilal has entered a hunger strike, and over 65 fellow Palestinian prisoners have followed him and declared an open-ended hunger strike in solidarity.

“Right now, over 715 Palestinians are imprisoned under what the Israeli authorities call “Administrative detention”.

“This corrupt policy used by the Israeli authorities to charge and detain Palestinians without trial is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and International laws that guarantee fair trial standards.

“Israel’s overarching policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is to crush and fragment the Palestinian society and drive Palestinians out of their homeland.

“The Israeli authorises are engaging in mass detentions, violating the human rights of Palestinian citizens and constructing new settlements.

“We want the Irish government and the International community to stand up and publicly condemn Israel’s use of the so-called “Administrative Detention”, to demand that the Israeli authorities apply International laws on human rights, and to respect the fundamental rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.”