Hassan Karajah is a Palestinian youth activist, the Youth Coordinator of the Grassroots Campaign to Stop the Wall, and a human rights defender with a long record of organizing and public activism with the Partnership for Development Project, an umbrella group for Tamer Institution, Ma’an Development Centre and Bissan Centre for Research and Development, and the Arab Thought Forum. He gave an interview before his detention in which he saluted political prisoners’ struggle, saying that “their struggle has given us a model of steadfastness and the certainty that if we stand up united, we can win, step by step, our freedom and national self-determination.”
Imprisoned after a late-night raid on his home in January 2013, he is now faced with political charges (of membership in a prohibited organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and connections with the Lebanese resistance) based on event attendance and travel to Lebanon.
He worked closely with international solidarity activists as part of Stop the Wall, and called for people of the world to act for Palestine: “We do expect a lot from the people around the world. We know that many understand and support our struggle. We need to work closer together and ensure that our actions are better coordinated and we grow stronger and more effective in pressuring companies and governments around the world to stop their complicit silence and their support to Israel, whether at an economic, political or cultural level.” On July 30, Addameer released his letter, below, addressed to the free world (here, in Arabic):
To all of my friends everywhere in the world….to each person in solidarity… to all who care about the cause of prisoners…to all who believe in the justice of our cause, Palestine, who cherish peace, love, the steadfastness of the prisoners, and the sweet scent of freedom, I say:
“The wheat, when it is spread on the land, some will be crushed by feet and die, some will be eaten by birds, and some makes it to the earth, and then rain comes, and with the first appearance of the sun, the wheat comes as a positive omen of the continuation of life.”
Dear all, know that I miss you and I’m eager to see you all. What prevents me from this is the Zionist occupation’s detention, which it uses against me as it did against the sons and daughters of our people 65 years ago. However, if this is for the freedom of Palestine, our land and our rights, I am prepared to bear this, and I am sure that you are willing to continue in the same way.
In these moments, when I am writing to you and imagine all of your souls around me as my soul greets you, I do not exclude any of you. I cannot say each of your names for one reason – we have a shortage of stationery in the prisons, such as pens and paper. By these shortages, the prison administration intends to besiege the prisoners and deprive us of education. You know that this is a drop in the sea in terms of the practices of oppressing us and attempting to break our steadfastness – which they will never do. I wrote to you special notes in notebooks, but those are confiscated by the prison administration before they reach you, so I send you my smile each day with the sun to welcome it.
If you ask me, I am fine and healthy, despite the denial of proper treatment and medical negligence practiced against all prisoners without exception. But morally, my morale soars above the wind, for which there is one main reason: you have always stood beside me.
I have not forgotten all of my friends everywhere, although I do not see you at this time, but your images have not been erased from my mind. Your principles will not be separated from mine, our convictions are united, and what you believe is what I believe. The walls of the prison have not changed this; they did not and will not be able to stop me from loving you more. I still meet with you in the land of sad oranges*; Um Sa’ad is still our mother**; and I am sure that you will still hear banging on the walls of the tank*** that will not cease until all of the refugees return to their homes, and the homes of their grandfathers. We will not stop pounding on the walls of the tank and other walls – until every friend will be able to visit Palestine, its land, water, air and the entire national soil.
This period will not last long. We will keep this belief, because belief generates hope, hope generates work, and work is the road to freedom – the freedom that has no equivalent but itself.**** This work must be collective, and no matter how small, will have an impact. Small steps, once they are together, become an army, and a noble morning. We have a noble army, an army of an idea, the army that trusts its people as much as I trust in our people and their limitless potential.
We come from inside our cells and the prison walls to the world through books. We read, and become part of the characters that tell those stories and novels, and they make doors that take us out of the darkness of the prison. This is why the occupation attempts, by various practices, means and procedures, to prevent books from being introduced to the prisoners.
When I received the news that many of my ideas and dreams have become reality because you have done the work, I am certain that I have not yet been imprisoned. I see the continuation of my work in your existence. I saw my freedom in your eyes. I heard my voice in yours. They have imprisoned the body, but they could not jail the idea and will not be able to do so.
Here, we draw our energy to continue from you. We, the newly detained prisoners, our hearts are full of happiness when, while being transported from prisons to court, we meet prisoners we have heard about for decades, whose photos and posters we have carried in the streets, prisoners from whom we learned our readiness to struggle since childhood.
In conclusion, I affirm to you that they will never be able to bring about our end. We are stronger than they are able to weaken us. We are higher than they are able to lower us. We are deeper than they are able to reach us. We continue.
I say to you at the end of this message – I will see you soon. I will come out as you have known me and better, and I will greet you with the single word, “Freedom.”
Hassan Karajah – occupied Beersheba Prison
** a reference to Kanafani’s novel, Um Sa’ad
*** a reference to Kanafani’s story, Men in the Sun
**** a quotation from Kanafani