Former US-held political prisoner Laura Whitehorn spoke on Monday, 11 July at a vigil across from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, New York, focusing on the struggle of Palestinian political prisoners and the case of Bilal Kayed.
The vigil, organized by No Separate Justice: A Post-911 Domestic Human Rights Campaign, highlights state repression, imprisonment, and surveillance in so-called “War on Terror” cases.
Whitehorn, a participant in the Anti-Prison, Labor and Academic Delegation to Palestine earlier this year, urged people to support Bilal Kayed in his hunger strike protesting the imposition of administrative detention. She explained that this use of administrative detention was unprecedented, because it was imposed at the end of Kayed’s sentence of 14.5 years in prison.
In this way, it allows the Israeli military authorities to hold political prisoners indefinitely even beyond the sentences imposed by courts and procedures that are illegal in the first place. Whitehorn also spoke about the fact that the Palestinian political prisoners have expressed a united request for international support for Kayed and all hunger-striking political prisoners held in Israeli jails.
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.
Photos: Bud Korotzer/Desertpeace