Bilal Kayed’s letter from 2012 hunger strike: “I tolerate my pain…to protect your dignity and mine”

The following letter was written by Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed, currently on his 28th day of hunger strike, on 10 May 2012, during his participation in the mass Karameh hunger strike in which thousands of Palestinian prisoners collectively refused food between 17 April and 14 May 2012, in order to liberate 19 Palestinian leaders from solitary confinement, secure family visits for prisoners from the Gaza Strip, and struggle against repression against prisoners.

Kayed was part of the prisoners’ committee organizing and leading the strike, as well as previous strikes inside the prison. Later, in February 2015, his father – to whom, among others, this letter was addressed – died; he had been prohibited family visits for some time prior and was forbidden from seeing his father before his death.

Kayed was ordered to six months administrative detention following the completion of his 14.5-year sentence in Israeli prisons on 13 June, and began his hunger strike on 15 June. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – Kayed’s party – and across political lines, are joining in steps of protest to demand Kayed’s freedom and the cancellation of his administrative detention.

Administrative detention orders, for imprisonment without charge or trial, are indefinitely renewable, issued on the basis of secret evidence. Kayed is among 750 Palestinians held without charge or trial, and 7000 total Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. International protests are taking place around the world this week demanding Kayed’s freedom and supporting his strike.

The text of the 2002 letter follows:

bilal letter

My beloved father, my beloved mother, my beloved MiMi, my beloved sisters and brothers,

Greetings, my beloved ones. Here I am writing to you my letter, that I am writing with my own flesh, blood, hunger and pain, on my 24th day of hunger strike, in which I have nothing but my steadfastness and patience to recall your images which give me strength. And I bite on my pain, that is trying to infiltrate my humble and rebellious soul, to resist its torture that is trying to force it to submit – and it never will.

My faithful ones, words are running away from me. Despite my utmost longing to see you, I return every time determined to write to you despite my weakness that has reached a great deal of pain and sorrow. But as you have taught me, particularly you, my dearest father, the pain of the body, is sweet in comparison to the pain of the soul.

My patience has run away, against their attempts to humiliate me, and to humiliate you because of me. My patience has run away with their humiliation of the symbols of my people (leaders of the prisoners). Depriving prisoners from seeing their families, my patience has run away because I cannot see you, my beloved amazing and solid father. That is why I tolerate my pain and my death in order to protect your dignity and mine.

Forgive me, my beloved ones. I do not have strength to continue this letter, because of exhaustion. I hope you will give my greetings to everyone, Mahmoud and his family, Suha and her family, Najim, Mohammed, Najwa, Nazik, Ghada and all of the relatives and friends.

Please be assured about my health and morale. Greetings to all of you and peace.

Bilal Kayed
10 May 2012