26 August, Cape Town: Protest in Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners

Friday, 26 August
12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Company Gardens near St George’s Cathedral
Wale Street
Cape Town, South Africa

The Ex-Political Prisoners’ Association of South Africa (EPPA) and the human rights and Palestine solidarity organization BDS South Africa joins the international community in demanding that Israel releases the Palestinian hunger striker Bilal Kayed and all Palestinian political prisoners.

Kayed was arrested in December 2001 and sentenced to 14 years and six months’ imprisonment. He was held in solitary confinement during his last nine months of imprisonment. In a cruel act, on 13 June 2016, the day of his scheduled release, Israel issued a six-month apartheid-like “administrative detention” order against him on unspecified security grounds and relying on secret evidence. In protest Kayed launched a hunger strike. Israel’s administrative detention has been compared to Apartheid South Africa’s “detention without trial”.

At least 65 Palestinian political prisoners have declared an open-ended hunger strike in solidarity with activist Bilal Kayed. The hunger strike led and inspired by Bilal Kayed has lasted over 70 days.

Yesterday, in an emotional letter released on his 70th day hunger strike, Kayed, addressing his mother wrote: “I extend my words to be present with you on these stands of honor and freedom, hoping though in my last hours, the body may be absent and the mind fading, but the spirit is still holding fast to its decision, which cannot be deterred by any force in the world. Either victory or victory….And I, my mother, I will remain on my promise, and to my proud people, don’t drop the sign of victory, my mother, until I am victorious with you and for you, and together we will be the body and the bridge on which liberators and revolutionaries can cross…”

The United Nations Assistant Secretary General, Robert Piper, has slammed Israel’s treatment of Kayed and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Cécile Pouilly in an official statement said: “We are also worried at the situation of some 100 Palestinian detainees who are on hunger strike in solidarity with Mr. Kayed or to protest their own administrative detention or placement in isolation. One of them, Ayyad Jamal Al-Hreini, was also re-arrested and held in administrative detention on 23 December 2015, ten days after having completed a three-year sentence. He has been on hunger strike since mid-July. We, once again, urge the Israeli authorities to end their practice of administrative detention and to either release immediately or promptly charge and prosecute all administrative detainees, with all the judicial guarantees required by international human rights law and standards.”

As South Africans, some of us who were political prisoners, we challenge the Israeli government to stop using Apartheid like laws. These desperate and inhumane actions serve as clear evidence that the Israeli government acts above international law and with impunity. The actions of the Israeli regime against Bilal and other prisoners continue to prove that Israel is a mirror image of Aparthied South Africa.

Currently, there are over 7000 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel; 750 of them are being held under Israel’s “administrative detention” (Apartheid South Africa’s “Detention Without Trial”), 350 of them are children and 7 of them are Members of Parliament. In the last 11 years alone, more than 7500 Palestinian children have been detained in Israeli prisons and detention facilities (including being held in solitary confinement). Click here.

In the last few days protests have taken place and solidarity hunger strikes have began in New York, London, Tampa, Arklow, Enniscorthy, Wicklow, Manchester, Beirut, Haifa, Berlin, Milan and elsewhere across the globe.

Members of BDS South Africa and the EPPA will be joining the public demonstration hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in support of Bilal Kayed and Palestinian detainees this Friday 26 August (12.30 – 3pm) at the entrance to the Company Gardens near St Georges Cathedral, Wale Street, Cape Town.

We strongly condemn the inhuman treatment and illegal detention of the Palestinian leader, Cde. Bilal Kayed by the Israeli military junta. We call on the Israeli apartheid regime to unconditionally release all political prisoners, especially women and children who are detained without trial. The racist Israeli  regime is using apartheid-like detention laws ( like the notorious section 29 of the internal security act, through which many of our people were detained under apartheid SA).We call on all peace loving people to protest against Israel’s unlawful detentions and for the immediate release of Cde Balil Kayed and all political prisoners.