Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network protested in New York City on Friday, 8 July to demand freedom for imprisoned Palestinian hunger striker Bilal Kayed, on hunger strike since 15 June to demand his release from administrative detention without charge or trial.
The protest, on the first day of the international Week of Action commemorating the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Palestinian writer and revolutionary leader Ghassan Kanafani and calling for Kayed’s immediate release, took place outside the offices of G4S security corporation.
G4S, the world’s largest security corporation, is a British-Danish multinational that contracts with the Israeli Prison Service to provide control rooms, equipment and security systems for Israeli prisons where Palestinians are jailed. It also is involved in youth incarceration and migrant deportation and detention in the United States, UK, Australia and elsewhere and is globally criticized for its poor human rights record. Palestinian prisoners, civil society organizations and international groups have urged a boycott of G4S for its profiteering from oppression, apartheid and imprisonment.
While G4S has pledged to end its involvement in occupied Palestine and other “reputationally damaging” businesses, it continues to profit from the imprisonment of Palestinians and Palestinian activists have urged the importance of continued pressure and boycott of the corporation. The UK’s government-funded corporate watchdog, the National Contact Point, found on 7 June that G4S continues to breach fundamental human rights obligations due to its involvement in Israeli prisons, checkpoints, and police training centers.
Bilal Kayed completed his 14.5-year prison sentence in Israeli prisons on 13 June; however, instead of being released, he was ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial for six months, under an indefinitely renewable order. He is one of nearly 750 Palestinians held without charge or trial under administrative detention, and over 7,000 total Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.
Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners – highlighting the threat posed by this action, of continued indefinite imprisonment of Palestinians following lengthy sentences as an Israeli policy – have joined in Kayed’s strike for short-term hunger strikes and other protests. Kayed, now on strike for 25 days, is held in solitary confinement in a room with no window, denied a fan in the sweltering summer heat even as he experiences dizziness, fatigue and severe weight loss after 25 days without nutrition. He consumes only water and rejects vitamins, salt supplements, and medical examinations.
The New York protest joined actions in Tampa; Arklow, Ireland; Naples, Italy; and London on 8 July as part of the week of action. Further events are planned in Manchester, Milan, Enniscorthy, Beirut and elsewhere in the coming week; next Friday, 15 July, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network in New York is co-sponsoring a panel discussion with a wide range of speakers, “Imprisoned Resistance: Politics of Incarceration in Palestine and the United States,” at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center.
Photos by Joe Catron