Victory for Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed – step up the solidarity

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We salute the victory of Palestinian political prisoner Bilal Kayed, whose 71-day hunger strike in Ramle prison resulted in the Israeli state agreeing to release him in December 2016. His protest against continued imprisonment under ‘administrative detention’, without charge or trial, highlighted the treatment of many more locked up under the Zionist regime. In a letter from prison Bilal wrote:

‘The prisoners are yesterday’s strugglers and tomorrow’s leaders...I remind you that there are still those prisoners who are fighting a vicious battle against this occupier that does not understand anything but the language of challenge...I remind you of the two Balboul brothers and Malik Al Qadi, and bless the victory of Ayed Al Heraimi, which is no less than my victory and the victory of others. I call upon you to stand with them in their struggle until the battle of hunger is victorious against the arsenal of the occupier. Inevitably, they will win.’

The RCG supports the Samidoun (‘steadfast ones’) campaign for the release of all Palestinian political prisoners and argues that the issue of detainees is central to building a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. At a rally in solidarity with Bilal Kayed in Manchester on 17 August comrade Shadi Daana told crowds:

‘I am here today to call on the people of Manchester to stand with the right of Palestinian people to live in their land. To support them in their struggling against the apartheid regime of Israel. I am here today because I am a Palestinian of a family that has a long history of involvement in the Palestinian liberation movement and experiences with political imprisonment. My father spent more than 17 and a half years in Israeli prisons and seven and a half in administrative detention. My brother spent five and a half years in Israeli jails and two in administration detention.

‘Palestinians live under martial law and are tried by military courts in which they lack even basic procedural rights. Nearly all Palestinians have at least one relative in prison and nearly 40% of all Palestinian males have been in detention at some point.

‘Israel holds more than 6,000 Palestinian prisoners. More than 400 are children, more than 60 women and nearly 700 are ‘administrative detainees’, held on secret evidence without charge or trial. More than 100 prisoners are on hunger strike now to demand the freedom of Bilal Kayed, who was placed on administrative detention in June immediately after completing a 14 and a half year sentence.

‘At this urgent moment, we call on all people of conscience to escalate the struggle. We urge all international supporters of the Palestinian prisoners, the Palestinian people and their struggle for justice and liberation to escalate protests to confront these threats to the life of the hunger strikers and support their urgent battle for freedom.’

At a time when British support for the Zionist occupation goes unchallenged by Labour MPs who are flocking to join Labour Friends of Israel, it is down to Palestine’s supporters to act to build the fightback. RCG Manchester is hosting a meeting to launch a Samidoun support group on 9 October, 2pm at Cross Street Chapel, M2 1NL

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 253 October/November 2016