Candles lit the evening in Berlin’s Hermannplatz on Friday, 22 July, as the Democratic Palestine Committees organized a vigil in solidarity with Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed, on hunger strike since 15 June, demanding freedom.
Bilal Kayed was scheduled for release after 14.5 years of imprisonment in Israeli jails on 13 June; instead of being released and returning home to his waiting family and comrades, he was ordered to six months imprisonment without charge or trial, indefinitely renewable. Today, he is among 750 Palestinians held without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence, under administrative detention, and one of 7,000 total Palestinian prisoners.
After a sharp deterioration in his health, Bilal Kayed was transferred to Barzilai hospital from solitary confinement in Ashkelon prison. In the hospital, he is under intense surveillance, guarded by four guards at all times, and shackled hand and foot to his hospital bed. He is unable to walk and suffers from extreme dizziness and fatigue; he has consumed nothing but water for 39 days.
Dozens of Palestinian prisoners are now on open hunger strike in support of Kayed, while hundreds more are involved in ongoing and growing protest actions inside the prisons. Protests for Kayed’s freedom are taking place throughout Palestine and internationally. His case is seen as setting a dangerous precedent of indefinite imprisonment of Palestinian prisoners after the expiration of their sentences.
The event in Berlin comes as part of global days of solidarity with Kayed’s struggle for freedom. Families with children joined the vigil, as did Palestine solidarity activists, organizers for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), and representatives of various Palestinian organizations, including the Palestinian Association of Germany and the Palestinian Community of Germany.
The Friday evening vigil was followed on Saturday by the Democratic Palestine Committees’ participation in the annual Cuba Solidarity Festival, held in Stadtpark Lichtenberg. Palestinian organizers set up a table and falafel stand filled with posters and information about Bilal Kayed and his ongoing hunger strike, and the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom.
This is the fourth event in Berlin in solidarity with Bilal Kayed, and comes as part of global days of action for Kayed’s freedom. In addition to events across Palestine and in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, events are being organized between 20-30 July in Brussels, New York City, London, Manchester, Cagliari, Milan, Athens, Malmo, Philadelphia, Cairo, Lysekil, and more cities around the world, including a World Student Day of Solidarity with Bilal Kayed and Palestinian Prisoners on 25 July.
Photos by Afif el-Ali