Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat issued the following statement on the eighth anniversary of the abduction of the PFLP General Secretary and PLC member from a Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho, where he and his comrades were held under US and British guard:

saadat-posterOn March 14-15, 2006, eight years ago, Israeli military forces surrounded the Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho, where Palestinian national leader Ahmad Sa’adat was imprisoned with his comrades, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Majdi Rimawi, Basil al-Asmar and Hamdi Qur’an, attacking and destroying the prison itself while abducting the Palestinian prisoners of freedom held inside. While in Jericho, Sa’adat and his comrades – and fellow prisoner Fouad Shubaki – were held under United States and British guard, who left Jericho prison in advance, knowing that it would soon come under heavy attack from Israeli weaponry (often itself US-manufactured, funded and supplied.)

Sa’adat and his comrades were kidnapped as the Israeli army laid siege for twelve hours, attacking the Palestinian Authority prison with bulldozers and tanks, killing two Palestinians and injuring twenty-three more. Eight years on, as Sa’adat and his comrades number among 5200 Palestinian political prisoners behind bars of the occupation, it is more urgent than ever that people act and demand their freedom, and the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners. We particularly note the crisis of sick prisoners facing death behind prison walls.

Today, Ahmad Sa’adat called for escalating the campaign, focusing specifically on the sick prisoners suffering medical neglect and abuse in the dungeons of the occupation, urging international exposure of the crimes of the occupation in order to “save the lives of the prisoners held for slow death in the Ramle prison clinic.”

This anniversary demands, once more, that it is long past time to bring the Palestinian Authority’s shameful, dangerous, threatening policy of security cooperation with the Zionist state to an end. This policy is responsible for the imprisonment of Sa’adat and his comrades in a Palestinian Authority prison to begin with; it plays a significant role in continued suppression of resistance. Its echoes are felt in the ongoing arrest raids and assassinations targeting Palestinian activists. Sa’adat and his comrades were not abducted from their home but from a PA jail which had held them – contrary to Palestinian law and Palestinian court orders – for over four years.

Furthermore, the case of Ahmad Sa’adat and his comrades highlights the central complicity and responsibility of the U.S. and British states, and their historical and present-day imperial and colonial interests in Palestine, in the imprisonment of Palestinian leaders and fighters and the colonization of Palestine by the Zionist movement. United States and British guards’ presence was justified as “protection,” when in fact they left in a coordinated fashion immediately prior to the attack of occupation forces, leaving an open area for their assault. This collusion must be exposed once more, particularly when Palestinian Authority officials seek to accept imperial “NATO forces” on Palestinian land suppressing resistance.

Meanwhile, on the political level, the US not only funds and provide the weaponry that attacks, abducts and assassinates Palestinians, but provides the critical political foundation for the so-called “negotiations” process that threatens the core of the Palestinian cause, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and seek to impose a defeatist solution upon the Palestinian people to serve the interests of US imperialism.

And it should not be forgotten that some of the earliest pages of Palestinian prisoners’ poetry were written in British jails as they were imprisoned en masse as they fought the colonialism of the British and the Zionist movement in the 1920s and 1930s, and that Palestinians were detained without charge and their homes demolished by British military orders as a British lord sought to grant the land of Palestine to the settler colonial Zionist movement.

Yet, despite these forces arrayed against the Palestinian liberation movement and resistance, eight years after the abduction of Ahmad Sa’adat and his comrades, the resilience and steadfastness of Palestinian prisoners remains legendary. They are an international symbol of political steadfastness in the face of colonialism. Their names echo in salute to comrades in the struggle for liberation around the world: Nelson Mandela, Bobby Sands, Victor Jara.

And the call for the freedom of Ahmad Sa’adat is also a call for the liberation of all prisoners of racism, imperialism and settler colonialism: from Leonard PeltierMumia Abu Jamal, and Oscar Lopez Rivera, to Zara AlvarezRicardo Palmera, the Cuban Five, and every prisoner of freedom held for seeking the liberation of their people. It must also be a call for the freedom of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah and all Palestinian political prisoners held in international jails; Abdallah has been victimized for over 28 years in French prison on trumped-up charges and remains imprisoned today because of the power of US imperialism to undercut even French court rulings.

The valiant struggle of Palestinian prisoners achieved the end of isolation of Sa’adat and fellow Palestinian leaders after over three years in a mass hunger strike. Their daily confrontation with the occupation behind bars must remind all of us internationally of our duties to seek justice, freedom and liberation for these thousands of Palestinians and for the self-determination, return, and liberation of the entire land and people of Palestine itself.

Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat

Take Action!

1. Picket, protest or call the Israeli embassy or consulate in your location and demand the immediate freedom of Ahmad Sa’adat, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Majdi Rimawi, Basil al-Asmar, Hamdi Qur’an, and all Palestinian political prisoners.

2. Distribute the free downloadable Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat materials in your community at local events.

3. Write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to exercise their responsibilities and act swiftly to demand that prisoners’ rights are recognized. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at JER_jerusalem@icrc.org.

4. Use the form to let the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat know about your local action or email us at campaign@freeahmadsaadat.org.

WHO IS AHMAD SA’ADAT?

Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was elected to his position in 2001 following the assassination of the previous General Secretary, Abu Ali Mustafa, on August 27, 2001 by a U.S.-made Apache missile shot from an Israeli military helicopter as he sat in his office in Ramallah. PFLP fighters retaliated by assassinating Rehavam Ze’evi, the racist extremist Israeli tourism minister and head of the Moledet party, notorious for his political platform based on the “transfer” or ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, on October 17, 2001.

Sa’adat was abducted by Palestinian Authority security forces after engaging in a meeting with PA officials under false pretenses in February 2002, and was held in the Muqata’ PA presidential building in Ramallah until April 2002, when in an agreement with Israel, the U.S. and Britain, he and four of his comrades were held in the Palestinian Authority’s Jericho prison, under U.S. and British guard.

He remained in the PA jails, without trial or charge, an imprisonment that was internationally condemned, until March 14, 2006, when the prison itself was besieged by the occupation army and he and his comrades were kidnapped. While imprisoned in the PA jail in Jericho, he was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council. Since that time, he has been held in the prisons of the occupation and continually refused to recognize the illegitimate military courts of the Israeli occupation. He was sentenced to thirty years in prison on December 25, 2008 solely for his political activity, including membership in a prohibited organization, holding a post in a prohibited organization, and incitement.

Born in 1953, Sa’adat is the child of refugees expelled from their home in the village of Deir Tarif, near Ramleh, in the 1948 Nakba by attacking Zionist forces and is himself a refugee denied his right to return along with six million others in Palestine, in the refugee camps in the Arab world and in exile and diaspora internationally. A math teacher by training, he is married to Abla Sa’adat, herself a noted activist, and is the father of four children. He has been involved in the Palestinian national movement since 1967, when he became active in the student movement. Prior to his abduction from Jericho in 2006, he had been held at various times as a political prisoner in Israeli jails, for a total of ten years.

asaadatThe Palestinian Prisoners’ Society in al-Khalil held a sit-in on Saturday, March 15, marking the eighth anniversary of the attack on Jericho prison and the kidnapping of Palestinian leader and PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat and his comrades, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Hamdi Qur’an, Basil al-Asmar and Majdi Rimawi, and the struggler Fouad Shubaki.

The rally called for their freedom and the freedom of Yasser Abu Turki, leader of the Al-Aqsa Brigades in al-Khalil. Palestinian political organizations, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and other local institutions participated in the gathering. Amjad Najjar of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society condemned the role of Britain and the United States, who were responsible for protecting the prisoners held in Jericho, and who were fully complicit in thee attack on Jericho. He urged the United Nations to open this file and convene an international investigation committee, and called for the freedom of these prisoners.

Badran Jaber of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said, “We recall that dark day when the Zionist forces launched their assault and kidnapping of the Secretary-General of the PFLP, the militant Ahmed Saadat and his comrades from the Jericho prison. This is one chapter of the continuous Zionist aggression against our people, and further evidence of the terrorist practices of the enemy.”

Representatives of Fateh, the Democratic Front and the People’s Party also spoke at the event, noting that the kidnapping and attack was a violation of international law.

 

ahed-abughoulmehPalestinian prisoner Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s prison branch, was transferred on March 9 from Hadarim prison to Shata prison; no explanation was given for the sudden transfer, which often target leaders within the prisons.

Abu Ghoulmeh, 46, from Beit Furik near Nablus, has been transfered multiple times from one prison to another – 20 times in his first year in detention – and his family have been denied visits regularly; his wife Wafa has not been permitted to visit him since 2009. He was kidnapped with PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, Hamdi Qur’an, Majdi Rimawi and Basil al-Asmar, as well as Fouad Shubaki, from the Palestinian Authority’s Jericho Prison on March 14-15, 2006, when the occupation military attacked the prison with bulldozers and tanks, seizing the Palestinian political prisoners held there.

He was held responsible in Israeli military courts of commanding the PFLP military unit that organized the assassination of racist Zionist tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001, in retaliation for the assassination of PFLP General Secretary Abu Ali Mustafa in his Ramallah office. Click here to read Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh’s article on the experience of Israeli prison.

Samidoun is publishing the following article, received from inside the occupation prisons. This article, addressing the current situation and national tasks regarding Palestinian prisoners and their struggle for freedom, was written by Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, a prominent Palestinian leader who has been held in occupation prisons since 2006. He was kidnapped from the Palestinian Authority’s Jericho Prison in 2006 along with Ahmed Sa’adat and several other imprisoned Palestinians. There will be a Week of Action on October 17-24, demanding freedom for Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners. (Click here to download Arabic PDF).

Palestinian prisoners in occupation prisons: current reality and national tasks

By Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, imprisoned Palestinian leader (Download Arabic PDF)

ahed-smallLet us begin with the words of the great poet, Mahmoud Darwish: “Imprisonment is intensity. No one has spent a night in it, who did not train their throat in what may sound like songs. This is the method available to tame the isolation and maintain the dignity of pain.”

Thus, it is now and it will always be that Palestinian prisoners seek freedom and will sing for freedom, and work by all means to attain it. In order to achieve this goal, they work to preserve their dignity and their natural rights, despite the brutal organized Zionist campaign carried out constantly against the prisoners.  There is no road but the road of freedom.

There is no greater pain than living as a human under oppression and torture, denied the right to determine one’s own destiny.  This causes a feeling of helplessness and loss of human dignity. And when this oppression overwhelms your certainties, it seems that the world has abandoned you, even your language has abandoned you, and you are helpless and alone, facing the constant feeling of being unable to break through the thick, dense media and political fog and raise one’s voice into the world. Yet, the hope remains that the cause of the prisoner maintains its place on the Palestinian national agenda.

At times we resort to simplifying the complexities of our pain for media necessity. It may seem then that the torture is manageable, a small matter, and does not deserve attention; or you exaggerate, making it  easier for the enemy to attack your claims and prove you wrong, maintaining your isolation from the world and intensifying the siege upon you.

Wafa' Abu Ghoulmeh carrying Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh's poster in a demonstration
Wafa’ Abu Ghoulmeh carrying Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh’s poster in a demonstration

We are left with two options to choose between: Either you abandon being yourself and transform completely into the object of your imprisonment; or you become the subject and seek to re-define torture, its reasons and its objectives. It is not easy to be a researcher and the research subject at the same time, to be tortured and study torture, to be the witness at the scene and the analyst of abstract details simultaneously.

Repression and torture have become a complex catastrophe in order to meet the current discourse of human rights. It is the masked, modernized, hidden oppression. It does not have a clear visual representation. It is very hard to identify through one element or one measure. There are hundreds of small measures and thousands of details that are used as tools of daily oppression against prisoners. They are not visible except through examination of the comprehensive logics that stand behind this integrated system of oppression.

Torture and repression is different today from what we read about in the classic prisoner narratives like Julius Fukic’s Notes from the Gallows and novels of prison life like Tahar Ben Jalloun’s This Blinding Absence of Light, and what has been written historically in the literature of Palestinian prisoners.  Now, we face the torture of a different kind, much more severe than the previous in some ways. The enemy, with its  “civilization,” uses your  senses and your mind as tools of torture against you. It comes quietly and smoothly, it does not use a baton, scream, nor provoke an uproar, but all that is needed is to isolate you – and the torture lives with you inside the cell, inside your siege. Whatever you may have in terms of material things, whatever money you may have in the canteen, or material possessions theoretically available to you, can be removed from you in a moment’s time in isolation and raids.

What the enemy seeks to achieve by using this form of torture and arbitrary repression against prisoners is to reshape us again as human beings according to an “Israeli” vision, seeking to destroy our national awareness and consciousness, and in particular, the awareness of the vanguard of the resistance inside the prisons. This is done through the maintenance of control over the movement of prisoners as part of a whole package of repressive actions, including:

  • Separating or deepening the separation between prisoners inside a prison, isolating prisoners from one another, and maintaining a separation between imprisoned leaders and young activists;
  • Undermining the higher committee for prisoners and the committees of prisoners composed of representatives of the factions, and insisting on dealing only with individual prisoners as a tactic to demobilize prisoners;
  • Collective punishment against the prisoners when they take any step of struggle, even if it is symbolic. This includes preventing any collective action, such as the mourning of a death, a farewell to a prisoner, or a ceremony commemorating the anniversaries of the Palestinian factions or national days;
  • Transfer policies and frequent movements of prisoners have a serious impact on national organizing within the prisons. These movements aim to confuse the prisoners, undermine their stability and that of the organizational work inside prisons. The torment of trips called “Bosta”, which transfer prisoners between prisons and courts, is a severe form of torture;
  • Strengthening the relationship of the prison authority with the individual prisoner rather than the body of the prisoners’ movement, turning each prisoner into an individual case and refusing to address collective concerns of the prisoners’ movement.   Thus, for example, we see the results today in the individual focus of struggles, reflecting personal or individual demands and concerns and not the rights and status of prisoners as a collective;
  • Installation of glass barriers in the visiting rooms in order to separate prisoners and their families, even preventing them from touching and embracing;
  • The policy of strip searches and nighttime raids and inspections;
  • Isolating a number of prisoners in solitary confinement or collective isolation cells for many years; and
  • Controlling the quality of books, magazines and newspapers that enter the prisons, as well as restricting television stations; preventing secondary and post-secondary education, prohibiting therapies and other procedures that are too numerous to mention here.

As we can see, the body is no longer the target. The captive is not primarily physically punished, deprived or starved, but the soul, mind and consciousness are systematically targeted. This is the other means of torture that is difficult to explain in words. Associated with it are changes that have occurred in the reality and the role of the prisoners’ movement, from past to present, and the nature of the new challenges we face.

There are different tools, ideas and thoughts on how to confront this within the prisons. The unity of our vision as a prisoners’ movement is vital but, also, prisoners need to obtain the tools of knowledge and access the history of their movement and its sacrifices in order to elevate their steadfastness in confronting all of these measures.

Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh's daughter Rita
Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh’s daughter Rita

In many cases, prisoners today do not know the substantial history of the prisoners’ movement in the Palestinian national struggle, the central role it has played and how it has been looked to by liberation movements around the world. The prisoners today need access to and knowledge of their history, of which the repressive measures of the occupation are intended to deprive them.

What we see today is the inability of the Palestinian leadership to take a position at the right time. This is not meant as defamation or admonishment, but rather to affirm the weakness of our tools in confronting the process of the liquidation of national knowledge. We must examine our tools to modernize, revive and make our national knowledge and history accessible in order to confront the policy of repression. We must fight to maintain our movement’s organizational stability and not be subject to the whims of the occupier.

The reality of the prisoners’ movement, in all of its complexity, cannot be confronted only by prisoners alone. The task of exiting from this reality will also need, in addition to the steadfastness of the prisoners, a political role by all Palestinian forces , committees , bodies and organizations defending human rights, civil society, and unions, as well as the solidarity movement, on Arab and international, official and popular levels, and most importantly, an influential, active and strong mass movement in the streets, in the homeland of the Palestinian people and in the Diaspora.

We follow with great interest the political, media, popular, and official activities which have emerged in recent years around the issue of “the prisoners’ cause and their situation” and attempts to “internationalize their cause.” Therefore, it is important to distinguish between, on the one hand, the philosophy of ending “the file of the prisoners” as part of a process of political settlement and negotiations at the expense of our people, and, on the other, efforts to internationalize the prisoners’ struggle as a beacon of the Palestinian national liberation movement – and the road for the latter is through uprisings, demonstrations and popular revolution that will not end until all of our Palestinian rights are attained.

The continuation of the conflict and the struggle to regain our rights means that there will necessarily be prisons that will imprison activists and fighters. The most important reason for our existence within these prisons is the existence of our national cause, and that our liberation movement is still alive.

The struggle of the prisoners, and the struggle of the refugees of our people to achieve their rights must be in the forefront of the cause and the entire national liberation movement.

As we salute the diversity of the Palestinian, Arab, international and humanitarian efforts to highlight our suffering, we affirm the important historical fact that the Palestinian national struggle has always been an example and an inspiration for people and movements all over the world who seek freedom, and a source of impact for their struggles, which have assured the continued existence of the solidarity movement with our people.

Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh's mother marching in Abu Ali Mustafa commemoration in Palestine
Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh’s mother marching in Abu Ali Mustafa commemoration in Palestine

Accordingly, it is critical that the prisoners’ movement must be at the centre of attention of political movements and international human rights bodies. It must be on the agenda of the solidarity movement as a whole, with events and actions furthering a clear vision.

The media must address the struggle of prisoners from multiple angles. The tremendous role of the media in this regard is known to all, and goes without saying. We recommend working on the production of presentations and programs on the lives of prisoners. There are hundreds of issues, stories and rich themes that define the experience of struggle of Palestinian prisoners and their families. It is also important to connect with Palestinian, Arab and international universities which study the Palestinian history, cause and national movement on an academic level, and ensure that the history and struggles of the prisoners are reflected within these courses and programs as a crucial element of the Palestinian liberation movement.

This work, in order to be comprehensive, must also include addressing prisoners of the Palestinian cause held in prisons outside occupied Palestine, in Arab and foreign prisons. These prisoners include Carlos and Georges Ibrahim Abdallah in France, and many other activists and strugglers in prisons around the world. We also salute the Cuban prisoners held in US jails for seeking to defend their revolution, and have common cause with the prisoners of liberation movements around the world.

The issue of Palestinian prisoners must be visible on the international stage, and it should be a goal of struggle by Arab and international solidarity forces to put pressure on their countries’ governments, official institutions and popular organizations to take a stand in support of Palestinian prisoners, as prisoners of war, prisoners of conscience and prisoners of freedom.

Finally, we call for the continuation and expansion of popular participation in the Diaspora, organizing mass rallies in front of “Israeli” embassies around the world, with the participation of human rights organizations and concerned international organizations, demanding that the occupation authorities to free Palestinian prisoners. This is based on the recognition of Palestinian prisoners as prisoners of war, prisoners of conscience, and prisoners of freedom, which is critically important due to its political importance for our struggle, to regain the path of our struggle as a national liberation movement, and to reassert the true nature and image of the Palestinian people’s struggle, sacrifices and national goals.

Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh is a member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the PFLP’s representative on the higher coordinating committee of the prisoners’ movement. He was kidnapped from Jericho prison in 2006 along with Ahmed Sa’adat and his comrades in an Israeli invasion after four years of imprisonment in Palestinian Authority prisons, and is serving a life sentence plus five years in occupation prisons. There will be a Week of Action on October 17-24, demanding freedom for Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners.

Ahmad Sa’adat, imprisoned Palestinian national leader, was transferred from Shata prison to Hadarim prison, where he was placed in collective isolation in retaliation for his comments in court on Sunday, said former prisoner Allam Kaabi said on Tuesday, September 11. Kaabi was deported to Gaza in the October 2011 prisoner exchange.

Kaabi said that this movement came in retaliation for Sa’adat’s comments in court on Sunday, September 9 in Jerusalem, when he rejected as illegitimate the occupation courts and called for occupation officials to be put on trial for their crimes against the Palestinian people. Sa’adat is the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

When Sa’adat was transferred to Hadarim, fellow imprisoned PFLP leader Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh who was held in Hadarim prison, was then transfered to Shata prison. The “collective isolation” in Hadarim prison is a small group of prisoners held together and separate from the larger Palestinian prisoner population. Sa’adat was in isolation for over three years, from March 2009 through May 2012, and was released from isolation as part of the agreement ending the April-May 2012 hunger strike.

Kaabi said that the Israeli Prison Services were determined that Sa’adat and Abu Ghoulmeh would not meet in the same prison. He said that “all of the Zionist practices against leaders like Sa’adat and Abu Ghoulmeh, and all prisonrs in Israeli jails, will fail because the will, determination and steadfastness of the prisoners is much greater than those of the jailer.”

Various reports of a potential agreement to end the hunger strike have been circulating, but it is important to note that none of these reports are confirmed, and that the Central Committee of the Leadership of the Strike is the only body that can make such an agreement, announce it or speak to it. Both Addameer and the official PalHunger twitter account have emphasized that such reports are definitely unconfirmed and solidarity is needed now as much as before.

The health situation of Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, now on their 77th day of open hunger strike, continues to be quite severe, as does that of Hassan Safadi and the other long-term hunger strikers (Omar Abu Shalal, Mohammed al-Taj, Mahmoud Sarsak, Faris al-Natour, Jafar Ezz al-Din, Abdallah Barghouthi). Bilal and Thaer are continuing on their hunger strike; in a concession by the Israelis, Bilal was allowed to phone his family for the first time yesterday, as reported by the Palestine Information Centre. His family reported his ongoing strength and commitment to the strike.

Thaer Halahleh’s letter to his daughter was widely circulated worldwide as he reached the 76th day of hunger strike – both Bilal and Thaer have written wills to send to their families as they face a severe health crisis, not having eaten for 77 days.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine reported that Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, a PFLP leader, isolated prisoner and one of the members of the Central Committee of the Leadership of the Strike is facing a severe health crisis as the prisoners reach 27 days of hunger strike – and that the occupation Prison Services are denying him treatment, having refused multiple times to send him to a hospital despite requests by fellow isolated prisoner Hassan Salameh and his lawyer. He is vomiting blood, has vomited bile, and fell three times.

Meanwhile, Kamal Issa, one of the hunger striking prisoners, declared that he will stop drinking water, as reported by the Palestine Information Centre, as an escalation in the strike.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat issued the following statement on the anniversary of the abduction of Ahmad Sa’adat from Jericho Prison:

Starving for Freedom: Six Years on the Abduction of Ahmad Sa’adat – One Month on the Hunger Strike of Hana Shalabi

March 14-15, 2012 marks the sixth anniversary of the attack on Jericho prison and the Israeli abduction of Palestinian national leader Ahmad Sa’adat and his comrades, who had been held under U.S. and British guard in a Palestinian Authority prison.

For the past three years, since March 18, 2009, Ahmad Sa’adat has been in isolation in an Israeli occupation prison, subject to solitary confinement, poor health care and intense repression. Similarly, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, one of his comrades also abducted from Jericho in 2006, has been in isolation for many months. The demand to end the isolation of Ahmad Sa’adat – and his fellow prisoners in solitary confinement – sparked the September-October 2011 hunger strikes that swept through the occupation’s prisons.

As we mark this anniversary, a Palestinian prisoner’s hunger strike has once again captured the attention of the world, very soon after the heroic 66-day hunger strike of Khader Adnan. Hana al-Shalabi, released in the October 2011 prisoner exchange, was re-abducted on February 16, 2012, and is held under administrative detention without charge or trial. She has now been on hunger strike for 28 days.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat echoes the call of Hana al-Shalabi’s parents for a day of action this Saturday, March 17:

“We call upon…all Palestinians to go to the streets and participate in the support action planned on Saturday March 17 in solidarity with our daughter Hana Al-Shalabi and all administrative detainees. We will continue supporting our daughter’s hunger strike and we want to let our daughter Hana know: we are with you in your hunger strike until you achieve your demand; your immediate release from the unjust Israeli jails.

Your support to Hana is necessary to achieve Hana’s immediate release; it is also needed to support our daughter in her open hunger strike which she has started on February 16, 2012.

Finally, we call upon all administrative detainees to join Hana’s hunger strike until you achieve your own immediate release and put an end to the unjust Israeli policy of administrative detention which violates human rights and International law.”

Similarly, we join in the call for people around the world to take action on April 17, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, for Ahmad Sa’adat, Hana Shalabi, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Khader Adnan, and all of the nearly 5,000 Palestinian prisoners held within the jails of the occupation:

“On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Tuesday, April 17, we ask that all supporters of the Palestinian political prisoners’ movement bring Khader Adnan’s spirit of resistance to the doorsteps of his captors and would-be killers…Let Khader Adnan’s hunger strike mark the beginning of a revitalized global movement for Palestinian prisoners, their rights, their families, and their struggle. Together, we can make it so.”

Ahmad Sa’adat, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Khader Adnan and Hana al-Shalabi – alongside their nearly 5,000 sisters and brothers – are paradigmatic examples of the steadfastness of Palestinian prisoners. Despite the abuse and isolation they have suffered, Palestinian prisoners – and the Palestinian people as a whole – will continue to resist occupation, racism, and settlement in order to obtain their rights to freedom, self-determination and return.

On this, the sixth anniversary of the storming of Jericho prison and the abduction of Ahmad Sa’adat, the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat reiterates that it is long past time to end the dangerous and damaging policy of Palestinian Authority security coordination with the Israeli occupation. This policy is responsible for ongoing political repression and for the imprisonment of Palestinians in both PA and Israeli jails. It must be noted that Ahmad Sa’adat and his comrades were abducted not from their homes but from the Palestinian Authority jail that had held them – contrary to Palestinian law – for over four years at the time of the military siege.

The policy of security coordination is the policy that kept Ahmad Sa’adat, a Palestinian national leader, behind bars for four years before the Israeli attack and abduction. It poses a deep danger to the Palestinian cause, and represents the inverse of the unity and national solidarity displayed overwhelmingly by Palestinian prisoners standing together across all lines to confront occupation. It endangers the accomplishments of the Palestinian revolution and dishonors the struggles of the Palestinian people over its decades.

In addition, it must also be emphasized that United States and British guards maintained the prisons that held Ahmad Sa’adat and his comrades in Jericho, and that they were warned and exited the prison in a coordinated fashion prior to the Israeli occupation attack – when their presence there had been repeatedly, and falsely, justified as “protection.” The actions of the US and British guards and monitors in Jericho prison are yet one more example of the active complicity and responsibility for occupation by these states. Further, we call upon international authorities, including the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, to take up their responsibility to address the ongoing suffering and abuse of Palestinian political prisoners by occupation forces.

Six years after the abduction of Ahmad Sa’adat from Jericho prison, the Palestinian people and Palestinian prisoners are steadfast as ever, unbowed by repression, confronting the occupier from behind its own bars. They are a living beacon of steadfastness and inspire our struggle for the liberation of each prisoner – and the liberation of all of Palestine, its land and its people.

Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat

Take Action!

1. Picket, protest or call the Israeli embassy or consulate in your location and demand the immediate freedom of Ahmad Sa’adat, Hana al-Shalabi, and all Palestinian political prisoners. 

2. Distribute the free downloadable Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat flyer in your community at local events.

3. Write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to exercise their responsibilities and act swiftly to demand that prisoners’ rights are recognized. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at JER_jerusalem@icrc.org, and inform them about the urgent situations of Hana Shalabi and Ahmad Sa’adat. Make it clear that isolation is a human rights violation and a form of torture, and that the ICRC must stand up and play its role to defend prisoners’ rights.

4. Email the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat at campaign@freeahmadsaadat.org with announcements, reports and information about your local events, activities and flyer distributions.

WHO IS AHMAD SA’ADAT?

Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was elected to his position in 2001 following the assassination of the previous General Secretary, Abu Ali Mustafa, on August 27, 2001 by a U.S.-made Apache missile shot from an Israeli military helicopter as he sat in his office in Ramallah. PFLP fighters retaliated by assassinating Rehavam Ze’evi, the racist extremist Israeli tourism minister and head of the Moledet party, notorious for his political platform based on the “transfer” or ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, on October 17, 2001.

Sa’adat was abducted by Palestinian Authority security forces after engaging in a meeting with PA officials under false pretenses in February 2002, and was held in the Muqata’ PA presidential building in Ramallah until April 2002, when in an agreement with Israel, the U.S. and Britain, he and four of his comrades were held in the Palestinian Authority’s Jericho prison, under U.S. and British guard.

He remained in the PA jails, without trial or charge, an imprisonment that was internationally condemned, until March 14, 2006, when the prison itself was besieged by the occupation army and he and his comrades were kidnapped. While imprisoned in the PA jail in Jericho, he was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council. Since that time, he has been held in the prisons of the occupation and continually refused to recognize the illegitimate military courts of the Israeli occupation. He was sentenced to thirty years in prison on December 25, 2008 solely for his political activity, and has spent three years in isolation at the present time.