Call to Action – Bilal Kayed entering 60 days of hunger strike: Urgent Need for International Solidarity

Samidoun 

Bilal Kayed is about to enter his 60th day of hunger strike. As he moves into his third month without food, shackled hand and foot to a hospital bed and surrounded by prison guards in Barzilai hospital, the latest outrage has been issued from the Israeli occupation: a court date set for his appeal from the Israeli high court in two months’ time, when he is already suffering severe deterioration in his health, pain, weakness and yellowing skin. He has been threatened with forcible treatmentshould he lose consciousness again.

A Palestinian prisoner, Bilal Kayed is held without charge or trial. He completed a 14.5-year sentence in Israeli prisons on 13 June 2016. While his family waited for him at an Israeli checkpoint to return home to his village of Asira al-Shamaliya, he was instead ordered to six months’ imprisonment without charge or trial, indefinitely renewable, on the basis of the “secret file” – and thrown into solitary confinement, where he had spent the previous 9 months. Kayed, who was arrested and imprisoned in 2001 for involvement in the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian resistance in the second Intifada, launched his hunger strike on 15 June.

Since that time, he has consumed no food. He has vowed to continue his strike for freedom, despite all consequences for him personally. At the same time, both he and his fellow 7,000 Palestinian prisoners – 750 held in administrative detention – have affirmed that his struggle is not an individual one. Kayed’s case threatens a precedent that impacts all Palestinian prisoners – the threat of indefinite detention following the expiration of a prison sentence. It is also an attempt to suppress dissent and organizing within Israeli prisons; Kayed was an elected leader of the prisoners who coordinated between Palestinian factions to organize hunger strikes and other prisoner actions.

Over 100 of Kayed’s comrades in the PFLP and hundreds more other Palestinian prisoners have joined in collective hunger strikes and protests for his freedom, including Ahmad Sa’adat, PFLP General Secretary. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement has issued a joint statement emphasizing the importance of his strike. Over 150 Palestinian and international organizations have signed on to a call for his release. And in the streets in Palestine and internationally, the popular voice is growing: from the cities, villages and refugee camps of occupied Palestine in all areas, in Haifa, Asqelan, Umm al-Fahm, Nablus, Dheisheh, Bethlehem, Aida Camp, Qalandiya Camp, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Gaza, Khan Younis, and so many more; and from the cities and towns of the world, in New York, Vancouver, Montreal, Johannesburg, Belfast, Dublin, Beirut, Cairo, Rabat, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Toulouse, The Hague, Gothenburg, Montreal, Vienna, Copenhagen, Malmo, Caracas, Sao Paulo, Naples, Sydney, Milan, London, Manchester and so many more; the call is growing for the freedom of Bilal Kayed and his fellow Palestinian prisoners.

The Boycott National Committee has issued a call to escalate and intensify the boycott of G4S; as Bilal Kayed enters 60 days of hunger strike, this is the time to amplify the boycott of Israel and the campaign against G4S.  In New York City, protesters will march and rally from one G4S office to another on Friday, 12 August as Bilal Kayed enters his 60th day of hunger strike. The ramped-up G4S campaign comes just as the Movement for Black Lives has urged all, in its historic platform, to “organize campaigns against G4S and other global private prison companies that are profiting from the shackling of our community  in the US, in Palestine, in Brazil and around the world.”

In Lebanon, the Lebanese Communist Party will march to the borders of Palestine for the striking prisoners. In Lannemezan prison, Georges Abdallah refuses meals after 32 years in French prisons. In Ireland, the home of so many anti-colonial prisoners and a strong legacy of hunger strikes, the protests multiply by the day, including by today’s Irish republican prisoners. In Dublin, Copenhagen, Sydney, Derry, Vienna, Berlin, NYC and across occupied Palestine, people are readying to take to the streets for freedom.

At the same time, the official voices of the world are silent: from the large human rights organizations to governments and UN bodies. At this urgent moment, we call on all people of conscience, Palestinian and Palestine solidarity organizations and social justice movements to escalate the struggle for freedom for Bilal Kayed. The designation of a court date two months away is an open declaration of the Israeli desire to assassinate Bilal Kayed and suppress the prisoners’ movement. As Bilal Kayed enters his 60th day of hunger strike, let us make 12 August-20 August days of action for Bilal’s liberation and Palestine’s liberation!

We urge all international supporters of the Palestinian prisoners, the Palestinian people and their struggle for justice and liberation to escalate protests, organizing and struggle for freedom to confront these threats to the life of Bilal Kayed and support his urgent battle for freedom.

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