Salutes to Karim Younes, Palestinian prisoner, on his liberation after 40 years

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Karim Younes and the entire Palestinian people on his liberation today after serving 40 years as the longest consecutively-held Palestinian prisoner. Imprisoned since 1983, Younes was welcomed home by his fellow residents of ‘Ara, a Palestinian village in occupied Palestine ’48.

Speaking immediately after his release, he confirmed his continued commitment to struggle. “I salute our great people who have engaged in struggle for 100 years without raising the white flag,” he said, draped in a kuffiyeh and carrying a Palestinian flag as he marched with loved ones through ‘Ara. “I am willing to give another 40 years of my life as a sacrifice for my people, and all of the prisoners have the strength and commitment to sacrifice 40 and 50 years for the freedom of their people….The messages of the prisoners are many, but the final message is one of love and gratitude to our great people in all of the places of their presence, our people in the West Bank, in Gaza, in the diaspora, in occupied Palestine ’48, in Jerusalem…The prisoners carry many questions and concerns, and my heart is with those who remained in prison, carrying their bodies on their shoulders and walking with death alongside them.”

The Israeli occupation regime attempted to deny the Palestinian people their joy at the release of Karim Younes, who has become a national symbol of unity through his decades of imprisonment. Rather than releasing him at the prison gates of Hadarim or in his home village, he was instead released at a random bus station, away from his family and crowds, at dawn. However, with the help of another passerby, he was quickly reunited with his family and his liberation celebrated. Zionist interior minister Aryeh Deri also threatened to withdraw Israeli citizenship to impose statelessness on Younes and his cousin Maher, who is himself soon to be released on 17 January.

Nevertheless, with his powerful comments and strong welcoming — as well as messages of support from all Palestinian resistance factions and political parties — Karim Younes once again demonstrated the steadfastness and leadership of the Palestinian prisoners and the unquenched will to freedom of the Palestinian people despite 40 years behind bars, 75 years of Nakba and 100 years of colonialism.

Just days before his release, Younes issued a moving statement about his forthcoming liberation: “I am returning to sing again with my people everywhere the anthem of my homeland, the anthem of the fedayeen, the anthem of return and liberation.”

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network congratulates Karim Younes, his family and the entire Palestinian people upon his release, with a celebration that will only be complete with the liberation of all Palestinian prisoners. We join not only his friends and family in Palestine, but also thousands of friends, comrades and supporters in the Palestinian diaspora, Palestinian solidarity movement and global social justice movement in saluting his ongoing commitment to Palestinian liberation.