On his 58th day of hunger strike, Bilal Kayed was set an appeal date 2 months in the future by the Israeli high court. Imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention since 13 June, when his 14.5 year sentence in Israeli prison expired, Kayed has been on hunger strike demanding his freedom since 15 June. He is currently shackled hand and foot to his hospital bed in Barzilai hospital.
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Kayed’s legal team, reported that “he continues to refuse medical examinations and treatment, as well as vitamin supplements and is only consuming water, along with salts, sugar, and vitamin B1 only when needed.” Sahar Francis, Addameer’s Executive Director, visited Kayed today in Barzilai Hospital. “Mr. Kayed also reported to Addameer’s attorney that following the stand of solidarity in front of Barzilai hospital on Tuesday, 9 August 2016, that the Israeli Prison Service has been intimidating him; for example, he was surrounded by 25 armed police officers even though he is shackled with his right hand and left foot to his bed. Additional shackles have also been added to his feet, chaining him to the bed, despite the appeal submitted to the High Court by Physicians for Human to remove the shackling of his hand and legs. The IPS has also held him responsible for the mass hunger strikes inside the prisons, and the escalation taking place outside the prisons.”
He stated that he will refuse to take Vitamin B1 following his 60th day of hunger strike and that doctors have informed him that he will be treated against his will in the intensive care unit should he lose consciousness. He has been denied access to an independent doctor and is currently suffering from “chest pain, kidney, jaw, eyes, ears, legs, as well as severe headache. He also suffers from blurred vision, numbness throughout the body, hair loss, as well as yellowness and peeling of the skin.”
He expressed his appreciation for all of the local and international solidarity actions in support of his struggle and that of the many Palestinian prisoners engaging in a solidarity hunger strike to support his battle.
Kayed’s brother and sister, Mahmoud and Suha, issued a letter recogniing the international solidarity actions in support of Kayed’s strike. “You can help us, when you tell the story of Bilal Kayed to your family and friends, let the world see what is happening to my brother and to my homeland. If International Organisations, do ignore Human rights, we shouldn’t. Let’s make the world a better place on our own and not to wait for anyone else to make it better. Freedom to Bilal Kayed, and Freedom to the whole world.”
The statement came as Joe Catron published a new article in MintPress News, highlighting the growing international campaign for Kayed’s freedom. Activists highlighted the importance of solidarity with the prisoners in interviews, especially amid the silence of large human rights institutions on the case. They also urged the expansion of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns.
The Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC) issued a statement urging an intensified campaign to stop G4S in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. “As Palestinian political prisoners endure hunger in their quest for dignity and freedom, they have exposed Israel’s brutality in denying them their basic rights. To express effective solidarity with their heroic strike, we call for intensifying the Stop G4S campaign to ensure G4S does indeed end all forms of its complicity with Israel’s regime of oppression,” said the BNC.
Among a series of upcoming events in support of Kayed in the coming days in Sydney, Dublin, Derry, Copenhagen, Vienna and Berlin among other cities is a march and rally in New York City on Friday, 12 August, in which supporters of Palestinian freedom will march from the G4S office at 19 W. 44th St to another G4S office, demanding G4S get out of the business of profiting from the oppression of Palestinians.
Participants in the World Social Forum also declared their support for Kayed in a photo campaign, while Montreal activists held a protest outside a G4S office on Wednesday, 10 August, demanding freedom for Kayed and fellow Palestinian prisoners and an end to the security corporation’s profiteering from oppression.
In Beirut, marchers took the streets on Thursday, 11 August one day after Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Lebanese Arab Communist supporter of Palestine imprisoned in France for 32 years addressed a crowd in a solidarity tent mounted in the Lebanese city in support of Kayed and his fellow prisoners. In the night march on Thursday, protesters carried torches and banged on a tank, demanding that Lebanese companies stop doing business with G4S as it is involved in the war on Palestine.
Ireland has been a center of protest in support of Kayed and his fellow hunger strikers. A large number of organizations, including Irish republican socialist group eirigi, the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association, the Dublin Anarchist Black Cross, and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign have engaged in significant events and actions in support of Kayed’s strike while currently imprisoned Irish republicans have expressed their solidarity. The Irish anti-colonial tradition of hunger strikes and resistance to imprisonment is reflected in this broad support. On 11 August, an emergency protest convened in Dublin outside the Israeli embassy to demand Kayed’s freedom, eliciting wide support and honks from rush-hour drivers. Donegal county council member Michael Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig urged Kayed’s release, calling for more political pressure to support his strike. “I have been in contact with supporters of Bilal Kayed and they tell me the Israelis intend force-feeding him if he slips into unconsciousness. I am calling on the Irish people to protest about the inhumane treatment of Bilal Kayed and to support this man who should have been released from prison weeks ago. Write to your local councillor and TD and demand they raise it at the highest authority possible. Bilal Kayed could have days left to live,” said Mac Giolla Easbuig.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network denounces the transparent efforts on the part of the Israeli occupation military, intelligence and judicial system to threaten the life of Bilal Kayed while attempting to force him to end his hunger strike and accept his administrative detention without charge or trial. Kayed has made his position clear as has the entire prisoners’ movement: the imposition of administrative detention, especially after the completion of a prisoner’s sentence, will never be accepted. He is committed to continue his strike until freedom. As Bilal Kayed enters his 60th day of hunger strike, international solidarity and support for Bilal Kayed and the prisoners’ movement is more urgent than ever. It is critical to redouble efforts now to free Bilal Kayed and all Palestinian prisoners with demonstrations, events and actions to support their struggle for liberation and justice.