Free Palestinian political prisoners!
A Solidarity Statement of Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights – Philippines on the Palestinian Prisoners’ Day
Karapatan stands in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners, as we commemorate with the Palestinian people the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners from April 17 to 24, 2017. This period also marks the protest hunger strike of Palestinian political prisoners, dubbed the “Strike for Dignity,” to call for an end to the prohibitions and cuts to family visits, proper medical care and an end to medical neglect and an end to isolation and administrative detention.
Fig. 1. Palestinian Prisoners’ Day celebrated last April 17, 2017 where more than 1,300 Palestinian detainees initiated a hunger strike, photo taken from NSBC International
At least 1,300 detainees reportedly will join the hunger strike, with approximately 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners behind Israeli bars today. According to the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS), nearly 600 of them are held in administrative detention, imprisoned without charge or trial, while others face military courts with a conviction rate of over 99%. Hundreds of Palestinian children, as young as 12 years old, are held in Israeli prisons. Palestinian political leaders, including PFLP General Secretary , Fateh leader , and and 11 more members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, are held behind bars.
“The peoples of Palestine have long been fighting for liberation from their oppressors and occupiers, and many of them were arrested, tortured and detained for fighting for justice and freedom. Similarly, polilitcal prisoners in the Philipines have also been languishing in jails. They were arrested by State authorities using trumped-up charges, in their quest for genuine justice and peace,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.
Among the 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners, around 300 children, 19 mothers, and 500 others including legislators, former governments ministers, journalists and academicians are held under administrative detention without charges or trial by the Israeli government.
“We support the hunger strike by the Palestinian political prisoners as among the forms of struggle of the Palestinian people. In the Philippines, iron bars also did not hinder the collective efforts of political prisoners conducting similar protests and actions to make known their demands and messages to the government,” she added.
At least 1,800 detainees also suffer from various illnesses, including 180 individuals with life-threatening conditions, 26 cancer patients and 80 persons with disability. “We call on the Israeli government to immediately release the Palestininan political prisoners, in the same way that we are calling for the relase of all political prisoners in the Philippines, most especially the sick and the elderly,” added Palabay.
“Oppression and injustice anywhere in the world breeds violations of human rights perpetrated by reactionary states. But the powers-that-be can only imprison physical bodies but not the people’s aspiration for genuine freedom, justice and peace,” ended Palabay.