Eleven prisoners in Eshel prison have announced an open hunger strike in protest of the sanctions against them, prohibiting them from recreation and confiscating their belongings due to their hunger strike and protests in solidarity with Bilal Kayed. Kayed, 35, has been on hunger strike from isolation in Ashkelon prison since 15 June, demanding his freedom from administrative detention imposed upon him after the completion of his 14.5-year sentence in Israeli prisons.
The eleven prisoners on open hunger strike are:
Nader Abu Akel
The hunger strike comes as hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are engaged in a two-day hunger strike to demand Kayed’s freedom. Prisoners affiilated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – Kayed’s leftist party – have been subjected to a campaign of repression inside the prisons that has included the denial of family visits, confiscation of personal items and electrical appliances, transfers and isolation of leaders, lockdown of prison sections, and fines. The PFLP prisoners are expected to escalate their steps of protest in the coming week in solidarity with Kayed, demanding his immediate release.
A large protest took place on Thursday, 14 July in Nablus, as a solidarity tent was set up at Martyrs’ Square to support Kayed, who hails from Asira al-Shamaliya, a village outside Nablus. Mahmoud Kayed, Bilal’s brother, declared that Bilal was refusing to speak to the jailers, in a move of isolation, and refuses all attempts to end the hunger strike short of his freedom.
Another significant march in solidarity with Kayed took place in Haifa on 14 July, as a number of organizations, including Abnaa al-Balad, the Communist Party, Hadash, Herak Haifa, and the National Democratic Alliance, came together to demand freedom for Kayed.
In Beirut, protesters gathered outside the Pine Residence, the home of the French Ambassador, on the French National Day to demand freedom for Lebanese Arab struggler for Palestine, Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, imprisoned in French prisons for 32 years. They connected Abdallah’s case to that of the over 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, especially Kayed’s case.
Speakers at the demonstration included Hanna Gharib, General Secretary of the Lebanese Communist Party; Marwan Abdel-Al, leader of the PFLP in Lebanon; Samah Idriss of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon; and Robert Abdallah, George’s brother. Abdallah and fellow activists were arrested and later released when Lebanese police suppressed the demonstration. Samidoun organizers and activists participated in the protest and rally.
In Milan, Fronte Palestina organized a rally and event in support of Kayed and his fellow Palestinian prisoners, demanding their freedom. They carried posters and banners of Kayed and fellow Palestinian prisoners, including imprisoned PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, demanding their freedom; while in Amman, the youth of the Wihda Party (Popular Democratic Unity Party) rallied outside the offices of the United Nations in Amman, demanding Kayed’s freedom.
These events came as part of an international week of action from 8-15 July demanding freedom for Kayed and his fellow Palestinian prisoners that has included events in New York, Tampa, Istanbul, Arklow, Enniscorthy, London, Naples, Manchester, and Berlin; the anti-imperialist collective in France Coup Pour Coup 31 produced a French translation of the new video of Palestinian women leaders supporting Bilal Kayed.
Thousands of tweets were made online as part of a “Twitterstorm” electronic campaign to support Kayed on 14 July, using the hashtag #freedom4bilal as part of the ongoing campaign for his freedom.
The Progressive Student Labor Front in Palestine has issued a call for international student actions in support of Bilal Kayed on 25 July as prisoners inside Israeli jails continue to escalate their protests.