What does the hunger strike mean? The Battle of the Thirty Fighters – Munther Khalaf Mufleh

The following article was originally published in Arabic by the Handala Center. Munther Khalaf Mufleh is a Palestinian political prisoner, a member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He is director of the Handala Center for the Prisoners’ Movement Affairs and the spokesperson for the PFLP prison branch. He is a Palestinian writer and journalist, and was issued a membership by the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate while imprisoned in recognition of his work.

by Munther Khalaf Mufleh

The administrative detainees continue their hunger strike and their battle against administrative detention with the slogan: “Dare to struggle, dare to win,” carrying the banner of victory as the primary objective of their heroic battle. This is not only a battle against subjugation to the officers of the Zionist intelligence service and the military officers of the Zionist occupation state only. Rather, it bears in its content the same vision and slogan raised by the Vietnamese fighters in their revolution: “Dare to struggle, dare to win.”

It carries implications that mean, first, confronting and resisting the occupation, rejecting its repressive measures, delegitimizing its claims and dismantling its false value system. It is a general confrontation between two frameworks, one that seeks justice, freedom, human equality and true democracy, represented and demanded by the prisoners, and the other a system of racial discrimination between human beings on the basis of ethnic affiliation. In this system, “the Jews” are the category entitled to oppression, killing and domination in the name of their ethnic superiority based on religious affiliation, as represented by “the Jewish State,” according to the laws of this same state. These laws, when it wants to exercise its authority through the oppression of another people, include an entire regime of regressive and corrupt laws including the British colonial emergency laws extending from the Mandate era and the Jordanian emergency law since before 1967, during its control over Palestine, and a pile of military decisions issued by Zionist officers and soldiers, and the legalization of decisions by military courts that do not belong to the law of the state. Amid all this, the prisoners are subject to yet more laws and institutions of detention, with arbitrarily detained prisoners held in camps without charge or trial. The prisoners are exempted from the Zionist civil and criminal law and the mandates of the entity in the sense that their human and fundamental rights are confiscated, they are not recognized as political prisoners and freedom fighters, and they are even subjected to yet another layer of racist repression in these prisons and institutions between them and other prisoners within the legal jurisdiction of this colonial entity-state.

The battle of the administrative detainees’ strike exposes in its nature the falsehood of the Zionist judicial system, which is meant to be a law with a sharp division: that for masters, and those who are subjugated and enslaved. The master is represented by the court judges who wish to punish and detain them, reflecting the goals of the occupation military officers and intelligence agents. Administrative detention is an explicitly violent practice, representing the goal of the occupation officers to erase and remove the detainees physically, materially and morally by preventing them from practicing their lives and normal existence in their communities, in their families and their homes, and excluding and isolating them in prisons and camps for dozens of years with no charge.

Administrative detention is part of the Zionist apartheid system and, even more dangerously, part of the practice of ethnic, cultural and political cleansing by the Zionist movement and state against the Palestinian people. Genocide is a practice that extends to the deliberate destruction of a society, its culture and environment, in whole or in part. In this context, the colonial regime issued tens and even hundreds of thousands of administrative detention orders against Palestinians, including Palestinian children, depriving them of their lives, education and future; and Palestinian women, seeking to dismantle the family; and Palestinian men, seeking to destroy society and its relationships. It has administratively detained elderly people, doctors, engineers, professors, students, professionals, workers, businessmen, etc., and a large number of elected representatives, directors of institutions and community organizations, men and women, simply for exercising their professional or political role. Thus, administrative detention is a war crime, and a crime of systematic and quiet ethnic cleansing, adopted by the colonial regime to dismantle the Palestinian people, eliminate their society, control their environment, and demolish their culture and institutions.

The battle of the administrative detainees’ strike is not only a battle to oppose these measures by the occupation or to achieve specific demands, although it carries those demands. It is, in fact, a more comprehensive and broader battle than the demands. The strike is a message to the world, a reminder that there are crimes committed against the Palestinian people, and that despite the silence, “they are banging on the walls of the tank.” [in reference to Ghassan Kanafani’s Men in the Sun] Therefore, this battle bears in its content the spearhead or bridge to a more general, comprehensive confrontation between the occupation and the Palestinian people, between the colonizer and the colonized.

The battle of the hunger strike is an attempt to place the bones of the prisoners in the wheels and stop the occupation’s military jeeps, to gather bodies under the tracks of the occupations armored vehicles to stop the crimes of the occupation against the Palestinian people, against the world and its international institutions, against international law and humanitarian values. Occupation and colonization is itself the main crime, the basis for the practice of all of the other crimes in occupied Palestine, the “great prison.” The most heinous types of crimes are practiced inside the prisons, detention centers and camps, and this is a Palestinian and Arab national battle regardless of who is fighting it.

The battle of the 30 detainees is the battle of Palestine and the Palestinian people, and the people can join that victory by supporting this battle and standing up alongside the prisoners by all available means. The battle of the 30 prisoners is humanity’s battle against injustice, subjugation and oppression. Let all nations, peoples, forces, parties and institutions that love justice and peace join this victory.

The battle here is not resolved only by its demands or the fulfillment of these demands, but by raising the banner of the strikers, daring to struggle for human values and the values of justice, dignity and liberation.