May First call from the Strike for Freedom and Dignity: Palestinian workers build the prisoners’ movement

Poster by Hafez Omar. Modified to add English caption.

The following message was received for May First, International Workers’ Day, from Israeli prisons, where Palestinian political prisoners have been engaged in an open hunger strike, the Strike of Freedom and Dignity, since 17 April. This statement is addressed to supporters and friends of Palestine around the world, and to the workers’ movements marking 1 May with protests, demonstrations and celebrations around the world. It comes from Kamil Abu Hanish, one of the leaders of the strike and an imprisoned Palestinian leader of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, currently held in Ayalon Ramle prison. This message comes alongside a statement from Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the PFLP,  who issued a call from Ramon prison to leftist movements around the world to support the Palestinian struggle on 1 May. 

From the isolation cells of the occupation, on our fifteenth day of hunger strike, we mark International Workers’ Day, the First of May. We are locked in the strike of freedom and dignity as a struggle against the racist, colonial occupation that is waging a war on us inside the prison cells. We are engaged in this strike to defend our prisoners and our people against the relentless onslaught of racist laws and new attacks attempting to liquidate our Palestinian struggle for liberation.

Within the prison walls as we continue our strike, we honor and celebrate International Workers’ Day, the day of the working class and the popular classes of the world, of confrontation of all forms of colonialism, racism, exploitation and oppression. Today, from behind bars, we are with you on the streets and in the squares of the world, demanding justice, liberation and freedom from exploitation.

The sons and daughters of the popular classes of Palestine, the workers, the farmers in the villages, the refugees of the camps, have always been the leaders and the driving force of our Palestinian national liberation movement. The Palestinian popular classes have been the freedom fighters, the strugglers and the resisters on the front lines, confronting the occupation and Zionist colonization in Palestine. And so it is the case that the popular classes of Palestine fill the ranks of the Israeli prisons, the builders of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement continuing on the front lines of resistance, building the ongoing Palestinian revolution.

Within occupied Palestine, even to seek to work itself is criminalized. Thousands of Palestinian workers are imprisoned each year simply for seeking work “without a permit” within their own homeland, Palestine, divided and colonized by the occupier. Their numbers are not counted among our nearly 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners. But they are surely prisoners of politics – of the settler colonial politics of Zionism which has sought to criminalize and eradicate Palestinian existence and subjugate Palestinian labor on our land for over 100 years, and has implemented that practice for nearly 70 years.

Today, as you march in the streets, carry with you our empty stomachs and our loud cries for freedom, justice and dignity. Our strike, and the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, needs your support, your solidarity and your action to win our freedom. Palestinian workers and the Palestinian popular classes and the workers of the world must stand together to confront capitalism, racism, Zionism and colonialism. Let May First be a day of liberation for the workers, and thus also liberation for the prisoners – for all of the Palestinian political prisoners and for all of the strugglers for justice in the world locked up in the jails of the oppressors and exploiters, from the United States to France to Greece to Turkey to the Philippines.

Our hunger and our empty stomachs do not only come for our dignity and freedom, for our basic rights denied, for our right to see our loved ones, to educate ourselves, to receive health care and medical treatment, to not be locked up in solitary confinement or without charge or trial. Our struggle as Palestinian prisoners will be truly victorious with the liberation of all the prisoners and, most importantly, the liberation of the land and people of Palestine. Freedom for the prisoners means – and must mean – freedom for Palestine.

Today, we call upon you, the fighters for freedom and justice in the world, the workers’ movements, the strugglers for socialism, the movements of revolution, to escalate your support for our struggle, for the Palestinian people and for the Palestinian prisoners. We urge you to act to isolate the occupation state, to hold it accountable for 70 years of crimes against the Palestinian people. We urge you to intensify and build the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the occupation state and the corporations like Hewlett-Packard and G4S that profit from its imprisonment, apartheid and colonialism. The workers’ movements, the movements of the popular classes, the movements of the oppressed, can and must take part in this battle around the world, as part and parcel of the struggle against racism, imperialism and capitalism.

Long live the First of May, the International Workers’ Day
Freedom and victory for Palestinian prisoners
Freedom and victory for the workers, the popular classes and the land and people of Palestine

Kamil Abu Hanish
In the Battle of Freedom and Dignity
1 May 2017