Prisoners launch hunger strike as protests take the streets demanding release of Bilal Kayed


Palestinian prisoners and prisoner support associations have announced a series of actions and protests demanding the release of Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed, ordered by the Israeli occupation military commander yesterday to six months administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – rather than releasing him as scheduled after the end of his 14 and one-half year sentence.

Bilal Wajih Kayed Yassin, 34, was scheduled for release yesterday, 13 June; however, to the anger of his family waiting to receive him at Tarqumia checkpoint, he was suddenly ordered to administrative detention and, instead of reaching his freedom, locked once more in Israeli prison. A planned reception for Kayed at his family home in Asira al-Shamaliya near Nablus became a protest calling for his immediate release, as his family and comrades joined in a march demanding his freedom.

bilal-rally2Palestinian prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine began a series of announced protests today, Tuesday 14 June, announcing a two-day hunger strike for 14-15 June. This will be followed by another two-day hunger strike among all PFLP prisoners in all Israeli prisons on 21 and 22 June, and a third two-day strike on 24 and 25 June, so long as Kayed remains imprisoned.

bilal-kayed-rdA three day strike, from 27-29 June, has also been announced in all prisons. If Kayed remains imprisoned, further protests will escalate after 10 July; in addition, the PFLP prisoners declared that if Kayed enters an open hunger strike, a large number of PFLP prisoners and other Palestinian prisoners across factional affiliations will join the hunger strike in solidarity with Kayed.

Protests will take place on 14 June in Nablus and Ramallah, demanding the release of Kayed and the end of administrative detention without charge or trial. The National Committee to Support the Prisoners in Nablus will rally at 1 pm at Martyrs Square in support of Kayed and all Palestinian prisoners, focusing on administrative detention, medical neglect, and ongoing attacks by occupation forces against prisoners. In Ramallah, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Committee will rally at 9 pm in Manara Square in support of Kayed, against administrative detention and ongoing attacks on Palestinian prisoners.

Kayed himself said that he is preparing to launch an open hunger strike if he is not released. He is currently being held in Ofer prison in anticipation of the court session to confirm the administrative detention order. He has been imprisoned since 14 December 2001, on charges of membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and participation in the Palestinian resistance. He has spent over one and one-half years in solitary confinement in various prisons and has participated in multiple hunger strikes and prisoner protests over his time in prison. He is a leader among PFLP prisoners and was their representative in Megiddo prison.

Kayed is one of approximately 750 Palestinians held in administrative detention without charge or trial, and 7,000 Palestinian prisoners total in Israeli prisons. Prisoners have conducted numerous hunger strikes demanding an end to administrative detention; Israel’s systematic use of the practice, in which Palestinians are ordered to one to six months imprisonment on the basis of a “secret file,” indefinitely renewable, has been widely condemned worldwide by human rights organizations, activists and officials as a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The administrative detention of Bilal Kayed is clearly an attempt to arbitrarily avoid releasing a Palestinian prisoner and struggler who has served over 14 years in Israeli prisons. From his teenage years, he has been known as an outstanding organizer and Palestinian youth leader. This illustrates once again the use of administrative detention as a method to target leaders in Palestinian community and society, as a systematic colonial practice meant to strip the Palestinian people of their strong organizers and to isolate emerging Palestinian leaders from the people.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network demands the immediate release of Bilal Kayed and all fellow Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and urges all friends of the Palestinian people to organize, protest and act to demand his freedom and that of 7,000 Palestinians behind bars.