Bilal Kayed‘s administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – was confirmed by the Israeli Ofer military court on 5 July. The hearing took place in his absence, as he refused to attend the military court hearing or recognize the legitimacy of the administrative detention process. On hunger strike since 15 June and imprisoned in Ashkelon prison in solitary confinement, Kayed refused to attend the previous hearing as well, affirming the illegitimacy of the military courts and the policy of administrative detention.
“The military prosecution claimed that Mr. Kayed’s administrative detention is based on secret information related to his activities inside the prison. The source of this secret information is an intelligence officer, who has personal issues with Mr. Kayed and who claimed that his release would pose a viable security risk,” said Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Kayed’s lawyers, who will be appealing the confirmation order.
Kayed, 35, launched his hunger strike on 15 June after he was ordered to six months’ administrative detention without charge or trial instead of being released as scheduled on 13 July after 14.5 years in Israeli prison. He has been held in solitary confinement since first ordered to administrative detention, and has been transferred twice, from Ramon prison to Ahli Kedar, and again from Ahli Kedar to Ashkelon prison. In Ashkelon, he is in a small 1.5 x 2 meter cell, with a broken sink and no window or other ventilation. He is consuming only water and rejecting any form of food, vitamins, salt supplements, or other nutrients.
Israeli intelligence officials offered to release him if he would accept deportation to Jordan for 4 years and conditions of no engagement with political activity, threatening to hold him in administrative detention for 4 years if he refused. Kayed immediately rejected the “offer,” declaring that “If you will not allow me to live in dignity, then I will choose to die with dignity,” and stating to his lawyer, Farah Bayadsi, that “I did not go on hunger strike to negotiate. I went on hunger strike for freedom.”
Former hunger strikers who won their freedom through hunger strikes, Muhammad Allan and Mohammed al-Qeeq, visited Kayed’s mother and family in their hometown of Asira al-Shamaliya to express support for Kayed’s strike. Fellow former hunger striker Khader Adnan has also participated in multiple protests and actions urging Kayed’s release.
Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are engaged in hunger strikes and other protests calling for Kayed’s freedom. His comrades in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have vowed to launch a collective open hunger strike in early July if Kayed is not released. His case is widely seen as threatening a dangerous precedent of indefinite imprisonment of Palestinians following the completion of their sentences in Israeli prisons.
He is one of nearly 750 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention on the basis of secret evidence. Administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable.
Protests for Kayed’s freedom have taken place throughout Palestine and in cities around the world, including in Berlin, Brussels, New York, Dublin, Belfast, London, Vancouver, Torino, Milan, Amsterdam, The Hague, Athens and elsewhere. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and other organizations are calling for a week of action for Kayed’s release, from 8-15 July. Over 150 Palestinian and international organizations have signed on to a call to action for Kayed’s freedom. Protests are planned on 8 July in New York and in Arklow, Ireland, with more events to be announced soon.
With the official announcement of confirmation of Bilal Kayed’s administrative detention, Samidoun reiterates the critical importance of the call for solidarity actions and protests around the world. We urge all organizations, individuals and movements for justice in the world to take action on 8-15 July 2016 to commemorate Ghassan Kanafani and his revolutionary legacy and demand freedom and victory for Bilal Kayed and his comrades.
On 8-15 July, commemorate Ghassan Kanafani and demand the freedom of Bilal Kayed and his fellow prisoners – and the freedom of Palestine and its people. We must raise our voices around the world, in solidarity movements and in Palestinian communities in exile and diaspora to commemorate the revolutionary legacies of Palestinian history and to struggle for the freedom of today’s leaders – like Bilal Kayed – behind bars.