Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Philadelphia outside the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, 26 July, protesting the Democrats’ support for war, occupation, and imperialism; denouncing the nomination of Hillary Clinton as the party’s presidential candidate; and demanding action to stop the ongoing police and state killing of Black people and defend Black lives under attack.
Temple University Students for Justice in Palestine organized an SJP Ona MOVE contingent that focused on the liberation of political prisoners, both Palestinian political prisoners and on political prisoners in US jails, including Mumia Abu-Jamal and the MOVE 9. The contingent was also part of the World Student Day of Solidarity with Bilal Kayed and Palestinian Prisoners, called for by the Progressive Student Labor Front in Palestine.
There was a high visibility for issues around Palestinian liberation and Palestine solidarity, including protests of the Democrats’ anti-Palestinian platform, the carrying of the Palestinian flag – also raised by dissident delegates inside the DNC – and calls to support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign. In the evening protest outside the DNC, marchers burned an Israeli flag, chanting in support of Palestine and the intifada and against US imperialism. The struggle of political prisoners was visible throughout the day, with calls for the freedom of Abu-Jamal, the MOVE 9, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Leonard Peltier and other prisoners in US jails, alongside Bilal Kayed and his fellow 7,000 Palestinian prisoners.
Joe Catron of Samidoun spoke at the march and rally, and read aloud a statement from Mahmoud Kayed, the brother of Bilal Kayed, on hunger strike since 15 June against his administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Over 100 Palestinian prisoners are currently on hunger strike in support of Kayed’s demand for freedom. The administrative detention order against Kayed was imposed upon him after the expiration of his 14.5 year sentence; his case is seen as a dangerous precedent for the indefinite imprisonment of Palestinian prisoners following the expiration of their sentences. Mahmoud, Bilal’s brother, has become one of the frequent spokespeople for the family in the frequent protests, mobilizations and actions throughout Palestine demanding Kayed’s freedom.
Mahmoud Kayed’s message to the demonstration is reproduced below:
Friends in the United States
Friends everywhere in the world
We greet you from occupied Palestine, and we thank you for inviting us to deliver this word in the demonstration, and to raise the voice of Palestine in front of the Democratic National Convention in the city of Philadelphia.
Let me first greet you all, on behalf of my family and myself, and convey the greetings of my brother, Bilal Kayed, who is currently on hunger strike for the 42nd consecutive day, imprisoned by Israel. And I greet you on behalf of all of the Palestinian prisoners.
My brother Bilal, as some of you know, spent 14 and a half years in Israeli jails, and when he was scheduled to be released on June 13 – on that date, instead, they sent him to jail for six months under the law of administrative detention. This criminal colonial law is used by the occupation state, “Israel,” in order to keep the Palestinian leaders and activists isolated from their families and their loved ones and the masses of their people. Today, there are more than 700 Palestinians in detention under this unjust law.
Israel is not only imprisoning thousands of Palestinians in an attempt to crush the will, the spirit, and the resistance of the Palestinian people. It is also imprisoning the bodies of the martyrs shot down by the armies of occupation, their lives taken by the colonizers and their bodies frozen, imprisoned, denied to their families.
Today, I extend to you from occupied Palestine, a message of solidarity and support as well for you in your struggle inside the belly of the imperialist beast, and for your struggle for the freedom of all political prisoners in the United States. Freedom for the imprisoned strugglers for just causes and for liberation, whether they are in the US or Israeli prisons, and anywhere they are where prisoners are being held because of their commitment to defend justice and human dignity, giving years of their life to defend their oppressed peoples and their right to self-determination. Today we also raise the call once more to free Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, imprisoned for 32 years in French prisons for his struggle for Palestine.
As Palestinians, we know very well what injustice means, what occupation means, and what arrest means.
From occupied Palestine, we salute the struggler Mumia Abu-Jamal and all of his fellow militant Black leaders and political prisoners in US prisons. We are on their side in their struggle and their just cause for freedom and dignity.
The Palestinian Arab people have been struggling for 100 years for the right to live and to reclaim their land and liberate their land and people from colonialism, occupation, and racism. And our people have and continue to recognize that our natural position is in the struggle alongside the oppressed peoples, and not alongside states that trample people’s rights, plunder the wealth of the people, and impose their will on the impoverished and oppressed peoples.
My brother Bilal belongs to the Palestinian, Arab, and international movement confronting imperialism and Zionism. He is one of 7,000 Palestinian prisoners standing firm in defense of the rights, freedom, and dignity of the Palestinian people, which is inseparable from his personal rights, freedom, and dignity.
My brother Bilal belongs to the global movement of Palestinian Arab face of imperialism and Zionism, which is like 7,000 Palestinian prisoners still in its natural position in defense of the rights, freedom and dignity of his people, which is inseparable from the rights and personal freedom and dignity.
The United States government supports and perpetrates injustice and occupation injustice and Palestine and provides military and financial support from taxpayers’ money, rather than spending that money on programs and services for poor people, education, and social programs. Instead, the United States perpetuates injustice and violence and funds prisons and police oppression. We emphasize that your role and your struggle in the United States is a central, pivotal and leading role in stopping the Israeli and U.S. policies by:
- Participating in boycott campaigns against the occupation and against the private security corporations like G4S that provide it with support and services
- Organizing delegations of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the prisoners. We welcome you to our occupied homeland Palestine and urge you to see the realities of occupation, apartheid, and the suffering of our people
- Building bridges between your people and ours – bridges based on human solidarity and internationalism, based on love, respect, and equality.
Long live international solidarity! Long live our resistance! Freedom for all political prisoners! Freedom for Bilal Kayed!
From your brother, Mahmoud Kayed
Photos by Joe Catron and Bill Doares