As the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike enters its 13th day on April 29, we all face a very severe test to our ability to organize the struggle to match the vital needs of the strike.
This is not the time for an in-depth political analysis, but in order to face the urgent needs we should be able to see what was done and what are the reasons that the solidarity campaign, till now, is not moving fast enough. As I want to rely on real knowledge, I will limit my observations to the 48-occupied parts of Palestine, though I have the impression that, to some extent, the solidarity movement in the West Bank and Gaza (and maybe even on the international level) suffers much of the same obstacles.
But first let’s see what is at stake. The prisoners in their decision to wage an open hunger strike put their lives in direct and immediate danger. On the other hand, the goals of the strike are concrete democratic and humanitarian goals. The strike comes after yeas of erosion in the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in the occupation prisons. So the question for the prisoners is not only a question of life and death… It is a strike that the prisoners can and should win; it can bring either dignity or humiliation.
The difference between victory and deeper suffering may be made by the solidarity movement all around Palestine, in the Arab countries and around the world. The most important thing is to have a growing solidarity movement that will touch every corner of Palestine. Only if the occupation rulers will know that the Palestinian street is tuned with the prisoners’ struggle they will try to avoid driving the prisoners to death and will look for a compromise.
It is a shame that there is no plan of action for the solidarity campaign. So we should build the plan in the middle of the action. It is not too late, but we should all change our mindset.
I would suggest that we all learn from the prisoners. The prisoners’ main weapon of struggle is giving up their food – this essential source of life. I don’t think that the main thing out of prison should be hunger strikes, but I would suggest that we all adopt the strike’s mentality. We have so many things to give up out of prison, and if we give up some of them things can start rolling.
First of all, any of us should give up other activities and put some time for the strike. The best thing is if you can give a few hours every day. But even if many of you join some solidarity activity every week, there will be solidarity events all the time around the country.
The next step is for our parties, movements and NGOS to make a “hunger strike” on the temptation to consume each activity for their immediate self-interest. In order to reach and involve the wider public, which is not organized, the solidarity campaign should be dedicated to the success of the prisoners struggle, with the utmost openness and unity.
The challenge of the strike is also a major test for the new trend of youth initiatives (“Herak Shababi”). They bring new dynamism and imagination where the old establishment failed. They were at the center of the solidarity with the prisoners’ hunger strike on October 2011 and the successful solidarity campaign with Khader Adnan. But now the challenge is bigger and in order to cope they should also make some painful “strike”. They should substitute denial of the others with constructive engagements in order to build a wider movement. They should overcome the aversion for organization in order to build a wide, systematic and inclusive campaign.
There was a good start with the Haifa demo on Sunday 22/4, Akka on Monday 23/4, the solidarity tents in Tira and Shefa’amer and two demonstrations on Saturday 28/4 in Sakhnin and Arabeh. In all demonstration we have seen cooperation of different movements and relatively good participation.
Let’s all strike with the prisoners!
For images from the Arabeh Demo through Panet.
For a Free Haifa report on the Demo in Akka
For an English report on the strike in Electronic Intifada
Note (From Iris Bar’s Facebook)
Since 17/4/2012 2000 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, demanding their human rights as:-
- The right to study (highschool & open university courses).
- Visitation for prisoners from Gaza strip who are deprived visitation since 2005.
- End to solitary confinement – there are prisoners in solitary for years.
- End to administrative detention. There are 320 administrative prisoners – held in prison for months and years without any charges or indictment.