On the 69th anniversary of the Nakba and in support of the prisoners’ struggle in Israeli occupation prisons, the Palestinian Refugees Displaced in Mersin, Turkey, working together with Turkish parties, institutions and advocacy organizations, rallied on 13 May 2017. The rally emphasized the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners, launched on 17 April by 1500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
The rally was introduced in Turkish and Arabic by Salim Zubairi and Mahmoud Salem Abu Abed, before the first speaker, Furat Gedek, representing the Turkish organizations in support of Palestine. He emphasized solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, noting that comrades in Turkey are standing with them in struggle. He denounced Israeli racism and injustice and saluted imprisoned leaders, including Marwan Barghouthi and Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and concluded by urging all people in Turkey and around the world to stand with the Palestinian struggle for liberation.
Bana Mahmoud Salem read a poem in support of the prisoners and their ongoing struggle for freedom and dignity. Her presentation was followed by a talk by Palestinian activist Izzat Ibrahim, in which he emphasized “solidarity with the brave, steadfast prisoners who are fighting the battle of freedom and dignity with an open hunger strike until their just demands are met.” Ibrahim reviewed the demands of the prisoners, including an end to solitary confinement, the end of administrative detention (imprisonment without charge or trial), the provision of appropriate health care and an end to medical neglect, the right to family visits, the right to pursue higher education and the right to have telephone calls with family members on a public pay telephone.
Ibrahim also urged international institutions to uphold their responsibilities to the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, noting that “we are confident in the heroic victory of the Palestinian prisoners.” He also highlighted the 69th anniversary of the Nakba – the 1948 occupation of Palestine and the displacement of over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes, lands and villages. “After 69 years of expulsion, displacement and dispersion of the Palestinian people from their towns and villages in Palestine, we as Palestinian refugees reaffirm our commitment to the right of return to our homeland, Palestine. There is no alternative to the right of return, affirmed in international law,” said Ibrahim.
The event closed with a speech by Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Awawda, who spoke about the struggle of the prisoners and the Palestinian people and saluted the Turkish people for their support of Palestine.