Dignity and freedom: Palestinian organizations and figures on the collective hunger strike

As over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners launch a collective hunger strike on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Palestinian prisoners, political organizations and social movements have issued statements and positions on the strike. In that context, we present excerpts from the position of each organization below:


“In the name of Fateh, the revolution and the revolutionaries, the spirit of the eternal leader Abu Ammar, the blood of the martyrs and the tears of mothers, the name of the people of Palestine, the land and the identity, in the name of pride, dignity and freedom…we announce that tomorrow, 17 April 2017 will launch the battle of freedom and dignity in an open hunger strike.” – Fateh prisoners in Nafha

Marwan Barghouthi, Member of the Fateh Central Committee, spokesperson of the Fateh prisoners:

“Our brothers in Fatah movement are facing a great challenge yet it is an opportunity to rehabilitate the role of the prisoners, who have obtained the most prominent achievements of the movement. We have no choice but to enter this battle, in which Fatah prisoners will prove their ability to secure the human rights of prisoners. This is an opportunity to end all the negative manifestations that the movement suffered from during past years, in an attempt to establish a new era of unity and strength.” – Marwan Barghouthi, Asra Voice

“Some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have decided to take part in this hunger strike, which begins today, the day we observe here as Prisoners’ Day. Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells.

Decades of experience have proved that Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong, by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their families and communities, using humiliating measures to compel subjugation. In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it.”  – Marwan Barghouthi, New York Times

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine:

“On the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, we salute every prisoner, the heroes and heroines of the battles of will and steadfastness, to every flower and cub, to the sick prisoners, administrative detainees and imprisoned leaders, led by the imprisoned General Secretary, Comrade Ahmad Sa’adat, Marwan Barghouthi, Hassan Salameh, Wajdi Jawdat, Anas Jaradat, Bassam Kandakji and the long line of leaders who represent the national struggle and the prisoners’ cause.

On this occasion, we make a particular salute to the martyrs of the prisoners movement and to all of those engaged in confrontation and the struggle for victory. We are firmly committed to see each battle of confrontation with the Prison Service and its instruments of repression and intelligence agencies as a collective battle. Every action initiated by any faction is all of our battle….In this context, we affirm that we stand hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder in any struggle waged by the prisoners, and we consider the decision to engage in the battle of dignity and honor against the jailer, beginning on Monday, April 17, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day 2017, to be one which we support and which we are part of. This comes in two ways, both through the decisions and guidelines for the comrades to engage in the battle, and through approving a program of support for the strike in all prisons and among our comrades outside.

In this context of high appreciation and support for this battle and all the heroic prisoners who will engage in it, we affirm our continued struggle for the unity of the prisoners’ movement and the escalation of confrontation against the prison administration. Thus, we call on all the Palestinian people and their supporters and friends around the world to stand side by side with the prisoners in their continuing battles inside the prisons, escalating the mass movement to support the battle of wills, challenge and confrontation, and to once again reaffirm the centrality of the cause of the prisoners.”  – Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Prison Branch statement


“The leadership body of Hamas prisoners declares their full support for the strike of Freedom and Dignity, which a group of brave prisoners in Israeli jails will begin tomorrow in order to reclaim our usurped rights and defend the dignity and freedom of the prisoenrs. In this context, we emphasize the full participation of our prisoners in Hadarim prison along with their brothers of different factions in this strike. And as we salute all prisoners engaged in this blessed battle, we confirm that the leadership is following alongside the brothers in all factions the latest developments, and will not hesitate to support the strike by all means.” – Hamas leadership in Israeli prisons statement

Islamic Jihad Movement:

The prisoners’ leadership of Islamic Jihad confirmed that nearly 100 prisoners of Islamic Jihad, including 52 in Nafha, 13 in Hadarim and 30 in Gilboa, are participating in the hunger strike from 17 April.

“It is clear to everyone that Nafha prison is a primary target of the ongoing attacks that aim to break our will and which require us to stand up in every way for our pride, dignity and stolen rights…The brothers in Fateh are launching a strike for a legitimate goal, to return our rights and stolen achievements, for which we paid a price in flesh, blood and lives, which affect all national forces in prison. This strike is a fair and necessary step with simple and comprehensive demands for all aspects of our lives, most importantly, the sick prisoners and family visits. Accordlingly, we have found as the Islamic Jihad prisoners in Nafha that we must strengthen this strike and push for its success as a religious, national and moral duty.” – Islamic Jihad prisoners statement, Nafha prison

Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine:

Helmi al-Araj, member of the Central Committee of the DFLP, said that “The members of the Central Committee and leadership of the Front in prison…all confirm the Democratic Front’s commitment to engage in this strike for its just demands…The strike represents an opportunity to follow up on the internationalization of the prisoners’ issue and draw the attention of the entire world to the suffering of our people and our brave prisoners, and the justice of their cause and their demands. The issue of the prisoners and their freedom is an integral part of the Palestinian national struggle for freedom and independence.”

Palestinian People’s Party:

“The Palestinian People’s Party greets the prisoners’ movement inside Israeli prisons and jails on the occasion of the declaration of hunger strike in protest of the conditions of their detention by the occupation, in order to improve those conditions through achieving their just demands in this strike…the battle for freedom and dignity waged by the prisoners also requires the Palestinian leadership to prioritize the issue of prisoners.”  – Palestinian People’s Party statement

Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee:

“On the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners Day, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee salutes the brave prisoners in Israeli jails and renews the commitment to struggle for their freedom through the escalation of boycott campaigns to isolate the occupation and settler-colonial, apartheid system and Israeli institutions and corporations involved in its crimes against the Palestinian people and prisoners in particular.” – BDS National Committee Statement

Archbishop Atallah Hanna, Archbishop of Sebastia:

“These heroes, prisoners of freedom, deserve the support of the Palestinian people, the Arab nation and all the free people of the world, with everyone standing by their side in this strike until they obtain their rights and their just, human demands, and, most importantly, the freedom of these heroes held behind bars. We express our support to the prisoners in Israeli jails and adopt all of their just demands and we urge the widest actions of solidarity and sympathy with these heroes until their message reaches to every location in the world.” – Archbishop Atallah Hanna, in Ma’an News

Mustafa Barghouthi and the Palestinian National Initiative:

“The Palestinian people as a whole stands by the prisoners in their heroic hunger strike, which represents the finest form of popular resistance against the occupation and for freedom and dignity…these activities will contribute to the popular national struggle for the freedom of the entire Palestinian people. There is no Palestinian house without a prisoner. The Palestinian people carry the title of the people of one million prisoners, and so the battle of the prisoners is that of the Palestinian people as a whole.” – Mustafa Barghouthi, chair of the Palestinian National Initiative, in Ma’an News

Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council:

“Palestinian political prisoners are systematically subjected to torture and ill treatment with continued impunity – highlighting the need for the international community, as well as individuals, to intervene and call for immediate protection for these prisoners and detainees, long-denied basic rights.

While Palestinian prisoners are about to launch a hunger strike to end Israel’s ongoing violation of Palestinian prisoners human rights, including its rejection to fulfill its obligations in accordance to provisions of third and fourth Geneva conventions, the international community is asked to fulfill its responsibility through tangible and practical measures to ensure the protection for prisoners legitimate struggle and human rights.

PHROC therefore calls on the International Criminal Court to immediately open an investigation into the case of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, and bring those who have tortured, extrajudicially executed, forcibly transferred, and arbitrary detained Palestinians to be held to accountable.” – Statement of the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council

Palestinian Liberation Front:

The Palestinian Liberation Front confirmed its “full support for the battle for freedom and dignity that will be waged by prisoners from the various forces and factions, led by the prisoner Marwan Barghouthi, in conjunction with the Palestinian Prisoners Day. This is an important occasion of struggle in the history of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, and a signpost in the march of the national liberation movement. The brave prisoners are carrying out this strike to express their rejection of the fascist practices and procedures of the prison administration and to claim their fair and legitimate rights. It is nationally symbolic and embodies the spirit of Palestinian national unity inside the prisons and detention camps of the occupation, confronting the daily policies of criminality and oppression practiced by the occupation against our people.” – Statement of the PLF, Ma’an News

Palestinian Popular Struggle Front:

“The start of this strike in Israeli jails is a turning point in the lives of prisoners and their demands of struggle, with great importance in coinciding with popular and official events on the ground for supporting the prisoners in their battle of struggle…It is critically important to strengthen this unity in the battle of the prisoners of freedom, in which are participating prisoners from all factions, including the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front….We in the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, before our brave, suffering prisoners in Israeli jails, affirm that it is time for a broader popular mass movement for the prisoners’ cause, to deliver the message and the voice of the prisoners’ movement to the world.” – Palestinian Popular Struggle Front statement, in Ma’an News

Palestinian National Council:

“The Palestinian National Council called upon all Palestinians, in all classes and factions and forces, to participate widely and support the prisoners’ strike and to provide all forms of support for the success of their struggle to achieve all their demands and rights that are violated daily by the occupation authorities. The issue of prisoners and detainees is a distinguished national issue and a key pillar of the national struggle. The prisoners are the vanguard of the struggle of our people, who have sacrificed their freedom for the freedom of their people. We urge the strengthening of the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and the escalation of official action in support of their cause.” – Palestinian National Council statement

Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions:

“All trade unions and labor organizations and all Palestinian workers stand solidly with the demands of the strike for freedom and dignity. We are certain of the victory of the will of the prisoners for their freedom and dignity. Their strike will have the interest and support of the whole world. This is a strike for humanity…to achieve their legitimate rights.” – Shaher Sa’ad, president, Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions

Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian Foreign Minister:

“The Foreign Ministry has mobilized its diplomats all over the world to defend the rights of prisoners, and the ministry is following with great interest the developments in the open hunger strike launched today by 1300 prisoners, with all states, relevant international bodies and human rights organizations in the world….The detainees are aware of exactly the price they may incur in this strike; their lives may be at risk of death, especially amid the fragility of their bodies, already suffering due to medical neglect and illness due to prolonged detention. This is before the punitive, barbaric repression from the jailer to attempt to break the steadfastness and will of the prisoners.” – Riyad al-Maliki, in Ma’an News

Walid Assaf, Commission Against the Wall and Settlements:

“The hunger strike decision is the most difficult decision in prisons, because they resist the occupation through hunger. We are required to stand by our prisoners.” – Walid Assaf, in Quds Net

Arab Higher Follow-Up Committee in Palestine ’48:

“1300 prisoners begin today the battle of empty stomachs. This battle requires a wider solidarity campaign from us, to raise the attention of public opinion to the suffering of imprisoned freedom fighters under repression and abuse in prisons.

The Israeli government is stepping up repression of the Palestinian people and imprisoning over 6,500 Palestinian prisoners in prisons, including hundreds of girls and boys and dozens of women and youth, and hundreds of prisoners subject to administrative detention. All of them face the harshest conditions of detention and deprivation of communication with their families, along with the continued crime of the denial of their freedom.” – Statement from the Arab Higher Follow-Up Committee