Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed, on his 48th day of hunger strike, issued the following letter today from inside Barzilai Hospital where he is held shackled hand and foot to his hospital bed. Kayed, 34, launched his hunger strike on 15 June; he had been scheduled for release on 13 June after completing his 14.5 year sentence in Israeli prisons. Instead of being released as scheduled, however, he was ordered to six months in indefinitely-renewable administrative detention without charge or trial.
He immediately launched a hunger strike in protest of this threatening precedent for all Palestinian prisoners, a strike supported by his comrades in the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and across parties by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement. Over 100 fellow Palestinian prisoners have joined a collective hunger strike for Kayed’s freedom, including PFLP general secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, former hunger strikers Ghassan Zawahreh and Shadi Ma’ali, circus performer Mohammed Abu Sakha, youth organizer Hassan Karajah, and many others. Hundreds more have joined in a series of collective protests for Kayed’s release, including partial hunger strikes and roll call protests; the prisoners have been hit by raids, mass transfers, prohibitions of family visits, solitary confinement and other sanctions in an attempt to break their collective protest movement.
Over 170 international and Palestinian organizations have signed on to the call for Kayed’s freedom, and demonstrations are growing throughout Palestine and internationally. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network highlights Kayed’s call below: “What I have received from you through your struggles, your sit-ins, your demonstrations, gives me more determination to continue forward until victory. Either freedom or martyrdom” and urges escalated protests, actions and struggle in support of Bilal Kayed and his fellow prisoners at this critical moment of struggle.
Letter by Hunger Striker Bilal Kayed
To my heroic Palestinian people…
Free people of the world…
In this difficult stage that I am enduring on a personal level, in the struggle against the attempt to force my submission to the brutal occupation which made a decision to liquidate me, for nothing but the fact that I stood beside the prisoners of my people, defending my rights and their rights and the rights of their families to achieve even the minimum conditions for human dignity. It is not strange that I find myself supported by all of my people, who surround me with their shouts and cries and their support and tireless efforts to remove the injustice that has been inflicted upon me and upon the prisoners. This comes in accordance with the national understanding that I was raised with, by you, my people, and by the free people of the world, wherever they are. In the West Bank, rising up against oppression; in the occupied lands [of 1948], proud and rooted in the land and upholding their identity; my heroic people in victorious Gaza, and all of the free people of the world, of all nationalities and backgrounds.
I am here, today, finishing my first stage in my battle with this brutal occupier, and I have declared my second stage, which is one of unity with all prisoners from all backgrounds and political parties so that we can all, collectively, stand at the point of the arrow of the national struggle, inside and outside the prisons.
After receiving this decision by the military occupation courts (as I expected) [to reject his appeal against administrative detention] ignoring my freedom, life and dignity, it is necessary that I respond in order to confront this brutal decision. So starting from today, 1 August 2016, I am refusing all medical examinations presented by doctors in the hospital. I am demanding my immediate return to prison despite my deteriorating health conditions, to stand in one front and on one line in the prison cells of the occupation, side by side with all of the revolting prisoners, raising our loud voice: Your decision will not pass easily! Especially after the occupation has crossed another red line, even more dangerous, by sending me to administrative detention, which aims to liquidate all of the leaders of the prisoners’ movement and its cadres and those who raise high its banner defending the right of prisoners to freedom and dignity.
My heroic people, the hour of struggle has arrived. I am full of hope. As I have always known you, that you are the protective wall, defending our struggle. What I have received from you through your struggles, your sit-ins, your demonstrations, gives me more determination to continue forward until victory. Either freedom or martyrdom.
Victory is inevitable
1 August 2016