UPDATE: 24 August – Lawyers for Justice confirmed that all of the detainees have been released, including Sheikh Khader Adnan. Freedom for all political detainees!
On Sunday, 22 August, the 23 Palestinian political detainees seized yesterday by Palestinian Authority security forces in an attempt to prevent a demonstration demanding justice for Nizar Banat and an end to PA “security cooperation” with Israel were brought before the Ramallah Magistrate’s Court. All of the detainees had launched hunger strikes upon their arrest, demanding their immediate release.
Among their number are many prominent organizers, intellectuals and former prisoners held in Israeli jails. While the court ordered the release of 13 detainees, eight more were ordered detained for an additional 48 hours: former prisoner Ubai Aboudi (Executive Director of the Bisan Centre for Research and Development), Omar Assaf, Ghassan al-Saadi, Jihad Abdo, Amir Salameh, Mohammed Abdo, Yousef al-Sharqawi and Hamza Zubeidat. All have declared that their hunger strikes will continue until their release. Hind Shraydeh, Ubai Aboudi’s wife, said that he and his fellow detainees had remained silent under interrogation, noting that their arrest and interrogation were illegal
Lawyers for Justice noted that among those released are former political prisoners Maher al-Akhras and Imad Barghouthi, Zaha Maadi, Kawthar Ebwainy, Ibrahim Abu Hijleh, Salem Qutaish, Yousef Omar, Yousef Abukhdair and Abdel-Hadi Abu Shamsieh.
Meanwhile, outside the Magistrate’s Court, Khader Adnan, the former long-term hunger striker who won his freedom from administrative detention in Israeli prisons on multiple occasions, was seized by PA security forces as he protested the detention of the organizers of the protest. In an interview with Quds News, Randa, Adnan’s wife, said that he was seized suddenly by a security vehicle that came to the scene and pulled him away. He has since announced that he is also on hunger strike until he is released.
A wide array of Palestinian organizations, political parties, legal organizations and institutions condemned the arrests. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad Movement, the Palestinian NGO Network, the Independent Commission of Human Rights, Al-Haq, the Bisan Centre for Research and Development, and many other parties issued statements denouncing the arrests as blatant violations of freedoms of expression, especially targeting former prisoners, and endangering Palestinian social cohesion in confronting the occupation.
Samidoun Network in occupied Palestine issued a statement in response to the arrests:
We, in the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, stand against the oppression and abuse practiced by the Palestinian Authority, which, approximately two months ago assassinated the martyr and Nizar Banat, and has escalated all practices of violence and aggression against our people over the previous period, although these practices are not new for the Authority. However, the emphasis on the use of excessive violence and smear campaigns against our Palestinian people and their revolutionary forces are increasing, which indicates the rule of the “security fist” policy and the domination of policies of control, and the pervasiveness of repression and intimidation against freedom of expression and assembly, expressing the people’s right to self-determination and confrontation of the occupation.
We see in these policies nothing but an insistence on betraying the decisions and commitments of the Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation, protecting the ruling class that plunders the resources of our people on a daily basis, insisting on the continuation of the policy of security coordination, the policy of the “revolving door” of imprisonment, and the surrender of the strugglers of the Palestinian people to the occupation, while it continues to usurp our land and attack our liberation project, not to mention denying the rights of Palestinian refugees to return and subjugating Palestinian lives to the global imperialist powers.
Today, while Jenin sets an example of sacrifice and affirms our absolute right to struggle and resist, and while Gaza stands firm confronting the occupation and providing lessons in struggle and steadfastness, this Authority has arrested 23 Palestinians as they organized a sit-in condemning the killing of the martyr Nizar Banat. The Authority’s security forces pursued them in the streets of occupied Ramallah, preventing them from gathering in a new step of suppressing any defense of our people’s right to life. Accordingly, we affirm:
1. There must be accountability for the murderers of the martyr Nizar Banat, from the security forces and the decision-makers in the Authority;
2. Our people today are able to protect themselves, and these structures established by the Authority are obsolete bodies that undermine the will of our people and their struggle for freedom.
3. The dissolution of the Authority and the monopolistic leadership forces and an end to the corruption of this political junta that undermines our people’s right to life and right to national liberation throughout all of Palestine, from the river to the sea.
4. We affirm that any infringement on freedom of expression will only be met with more confrontation in defense of the freedoms that constitute a fundamental basis for our people’s liberation struggle.
5. Immediate freedom for all detainees and an end to the malicious accusations of “inciting sectarian strife,” “illegal gathering,” and “insults to officials,” emphasizing that the true authorities of the Palestinian people are the martyrs, prisoners and fighters who have given their lives and sacrificed to defend Palestine.
6. End the ongoing political arrests, repression, abuses, and attempts to spread intrigues and division among our people.
7. We stand behind our valiant resistance and affirm that the real leadership of our people are the prisoners detained in the jails of the Zionist enemy and the heroic resistance strugglers everywhere who carry the burden of the road of liberation and dignity.
Immediate freedom for all political detainees!
Glory to the martyrs and justice for Nizar Banat