Life of Bilal Kayed, hunger striker in Israeli prison, hanging by a thread

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Bilal Kayed

Bilal Kayed, Palestinian political prisoner, now on hunger strike against his administrative detention

Bilal Kayed, Palestinian political prisoner, has been on a courageous hunger strike since June 15. He started it on the day the Israelis placed him under administrative detention. This was actually the same day when his release was due, after serving 14 and a half years in the Israeli military prison system of the occupation.

Allegedly, the reason for his almost one and a half decade of imprisonment, was his affiliation with the left wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The exact reason for prolonging his imprisonment under the pretext of ‘administrative detention’, remains unclear.

More than a hundred solidarity strikers

His hunger strike has generated waves of support, but mainly locally. As his protest hits the 51st day, he recently found himself supported by more than 100 other Palestinian political prisoners. They went on a solidarity hunger strike, in protest against Bilal’s administrative detention.

The Israeli military court system denied his appeal last week. They said that they had ‘secret evidence’ that he would pose a security threat if released.

Two prominent Palestinian political prisoners are known to be among those who are on hunger strike. One of them is none less than Ahmad Saadat, PFLP Secretary-General, who is serving a 30-year sentence. The other is Palestinian circus artist Mohammed Abu Sakha, detained in December, also under the guise of administrative detention.

Kayed: ‘Until freedom or death’

Khader Adnan

Khader Adnan, the man who kickstarted the hunger striking method of protest

According to Addameer, Israeli prison authorities answered the solidarity strikers with harsh repression. The most common method is deprivation of privileges. This includes isolation and revocation of family visits. In some cases, authorities have made use of physical violence.

Bilal Kayed has refused to accept an offer from Israeli authorities for his deportation to Jordan for 4 years. Under the deal, he would also have to sign a pledge to refrain from political activity. He has announced that he will continue his hunger strike ‘until freedom or death’.

Khader Adnan, the man who was the first to launch his own ‘battle of the empty stomach’, has criticized the Palestinian Authority. He told Al Jazeera that they ‘should be more involved in the media. It’s sad for me as a Palestinian to see an Israeli government official talking about a prisoner on strike before someone from the Palestinian government.’

In the mean time, Bilal Kayed’s health condition is deteriorating rapidly, reaching dangerous levels. He is under the constant watch of Israeli guards, while shackled to his bed.

Mobilizing support

Alain Bocquet

French politician Alain Bocquet has appealed to his government on behalf of Bilal Kayed

International support, which is something hunger strikers rely heavily upon, is still fledgling. However, as a positive first sign of change on this front, a French parliamentarian has stepped up. Alain Bocquet, member of the French National Assembly, has appealed to the French Foreign Affairs Minister on behalf of Bilal Kayed.

From past experiences with Palestinian hunger strikers, it has become clear that activist support can play a role in pressuring media for coverage. In some cases, it has also been effective in urging government officials to take action.

It is therefore necessary that all supporters of the Palestinian cause participate in calls for the freedom of Bilal Kayed. Urge your local Palestine committees to take action. Also, social media waves on Twitter, so-called ‘Twitterstorms’ have proven in the past to have an effect.

Therefore, when you hear the call, step up, and participate. Bilal Kayed’s life clearly depends on your support!

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