Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges all organizations and communities advocating for justice in Palestine to join the campaign to free Walid Daqqah, Palestinian writer, thinker and political prisoner. One of the longest-held Palestinian prisoners, he was diagnosed on 18 December 2022 with myelofibrosis, a rare form of bone marrow cancer that requires a bone marrow transplant. He is currently in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Barzilai Hospital after developing pneumonia after a stroke last month, for which he received delayed treatment.
Walid Daqqah’s family have launched an official campaign page for him on Facebook and urge all to follow this page for official updates on his medical treatment and the struggle for his freedom: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100091256805982
The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council noted, about his medical condition:
The only curative treatment for Walid is a bone marrow transplant—one of the most difficult and dangerous medical procedures currently known. Gatt also recommended that Walid be put in a clean place where exposure to infections can be minimized, neither of which is possible inside the miserable conditions offered by Israeli prisons.
In mid-February 2023, Walid suffered from a severe cardiovascular stroke that led to a physical injury on his chest. Not only did the IPS in Askalan prison refuse to transfer him to a hospital for emergency treatment, the in-house prison clinic, despite diagnosing a blood clot as the cause of the stroke, refused to provide him with a necessary blood transfusion. Consequently, Walid lost a lot of blood through a minor tongue wound in the days that followed. Further, his medical records indicated that he lost over 10 kilos (22 pounds) in one and a half months. Only after his hematologist visited Askalan for a routine appointment, nearly two weeks after the stroke, was Walid finally transferred to Barzilai Medical Center. Similarly, as Walid developed symptoms of severe pneumonia over the past couple of weeks, the IPS once again ignored his health and evaded hospital admission until his lawyers and doctors intervened. Walid is currently being held in a private room at Barzilai, suffering from pneumonia, kidney failure, and a life-threatening drop in blood cell count.
Daqqah is one of the most prominent and long-time Palestinian prisoners, known widely for his writing and cultural work from behind bars. Born in 1961 in Baqa’ al-Gharbiyya in occupied Palestine ’48, he has been imprisoned since 25 March 1986. He was recently highlighted as part of the Pre-Oslo Prisoners campaign as one of the longest-held Palestinians behind occupation bars.
As his family notes:
“In March 1987, the military court of Lod sentenced him to life in prison. In 2012, his sentence was fixed at 37 years instead of life in prison, and, as such, he was due to be released on 24 March 2023. However, on 28 May 2018, the military court of Bi’r al-Sabi‘ wrongfully added two years to his sentence on the basis of his alleged role in the case of smuggling cell phones to his fellow prisoners for them to keep in contact with their families. Therefore, his ‘new’ date of release cruelly became 24 March 2025…Political prisoner Daqqah has been subjugated to the endless injustices of the israeli court system. From the first moment of his imprisonment to this day, nearly four decades later, the courts have refused all of his appeals including tens of appeals for his most basic and humanitarian rights including: family visits, even for his father before his death (Nimer Daqqah, his father, passed away in 1998) or for his ailing mother (his mother, Faridah Daqqah, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013); conjugal visits; early release [shliesh]; and, most recently, early release for treatment for Leukemia of which he was diagnosed in 2015. Daqqah, was also actively excluded from release through prisoners’ exchange four times, in 1994, 2008, 2011 and 2014.”
Walid Daqqah should be free in a liberated Palestine; even according to his original sentence, he should have been released a week ago. Instead, he continues, imprisoned, in critical condition, in desperate need of advanced medical care.
Once behind bars, he obtained a master’s degree in political science and wrote several books in the realm of political theory as well as fiction, including children’s fiction. On multiple occasions, he has faced harsh repression, including solitary confinement, especially targeted toward his expressive work. For example, Daqqah was thrown into solitary confinement when he published a new children’s book, “The Secret of Oil”; a launch event for the book in the town of Majd al-Kurum was shut down by far-right Israeli minister Aryeh Deri. In the preface to the book, Daqqa wrote, “I write until I am freed from prison, with the hope of freeing the prison from me.” This followed the defunding of a Haifa Palestinian theater that exhibited a play based on his work “Parallel Time.” His family’s official campaign page asserts:
“In spite of all the injustices and discriminations inflicted upon Daqqah throughout the 37 years of his incarceration, he has managed remarkable achievements that have made him in to the political, intellectual and cultural icon that he is. He has been a leader among the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement and is a prominent figure in the Palestinian, Arab and international cultural scene, in particular in the field of prison studies. Even his intellectual life has been deemed dangerous as prisoner authorities subjected Daqqah to extra punishment due to his political, social and intellectual activism, in particular solitary confinement.
Daqqah is a prolific author. Among his works: Testimonies of Resistance: The Battle of Jenin Camp 2002 (2004); Consciousness Molded or the Re-identification of Torture (2010); The Story of the Forgotten in Parallel Time (2011); The Oil’s Secret Tale (2018); The Sword’s Secret Tale (2021); The Spirit’s Secret Tale/ The Martyrs Return to Ramallah (2022). In addition, Daqqah published several translations, and tens of articles both in Arabic and Hebrew, most prominently: “Parallel Tine” (2005); “Milad: I Write to a Childe Yet to Be Born” (2011); “Liberate Yourself by Yourself” (2020), and “Control through Time” (2021). Daqqah also has several unpublished manuscripts, paintings, poetry, lyrics, and autobiographical and theatrical writings.
Under these harsh circumstances, Daqqah married the activist, journalist and translator Sana’ Salamah on 10 August, 1999 in Askalan Prison. The occupation state denied them conjugal visits and their right to be parents, in spite of all the appeals. Undeterred, on 3 March 2020 their daughter Milad was born in Nazareth from liberated semen for artificial insemination.”
Walid Daqqah is a Palestinian political prisoner among over 4,800 of his brothers and sisters. He is an internationally renowned intellectual and writer whose contributions are part of the global literature of liberation and social justice, and he continues to resist for his very life and for the life of Palestine behind bars. He is resisting the policy of medical neglect and “slow killing” that has taken the lives of hundreds of imprisoned Palestinians as a systematic practice of the occupation.
As we commemorate Land Day 2023, we say: Free the Land! Free Walid Daqqah! We urge Palestinian communities around the world and supporters of Palestine to include the campaign to free Walid Daqqah in your events and activities for Land Day, representing the unity of all Palestinians and of Palestine from the river to the sea, and initiated by Palestinians of occupied Palestine ’48 in 1976. Use these signs below in your actions and campaigns, and send us your photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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