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‘The Palestinian prisoners are our legitimate representatives’

quinta-feira 19 de abril de 2018, por Ahmad Jaradat,

Palestinians march in solidarity with political prisoners for Palestinian Prisoners Day

Activities to revive the prisoner’s day in Hebron, April 17, 2018. Photo credit: Samar Badr for WAFA.

The Palestinian people commemorated Palestinian Prisoners Day on April 17, 2018 with marches, demonstrations, and conferences across Palestine.

Since the Palestinian National Council established Palestinian Prisoners Day in 1974, Palestinians have observed it each year in Palestine and the diaspora. It is a yearly national event to honor prisoners in Israeli detention as strugglers for national freedom and independence.

The issue of political prisoners has historically united the Palestinian people. The prisoners, as many said on Tuesday, remind Palestinians that we have a national issue that we should struggle for, particularly the demand that there will be no peace without release of all the prisoners. A protest sign in Hebron summarized this sentiment, reading: “the prisoners are our legitimate representatives.”

In Ramallah, around 200 mothers of prisoners gathered to carry pictures of their detained sons. They marched to a checkpoint north of the city with hundreds of other Palestinians, including political party leaders and civil society activists. Israeli soldiers responded to the march with violence. The soldiers physically assaulted journalists and forced them to leave the event.

In Hebron, the Palestinian Prisoners Club, political parties, civil society organizations and the families of prisoners organized a mass demonstration. Hundreds gathered near al-Khalil Stadium and then marched to Ibn Rushd Square. Coordinator of the Hebron Defense Committee Hisham Sharabati said in a speech: “We want all Palestinians prisoners free. Until then, we want decent, human conditions for detainees.” He added, “Palestinian political prisoners are not terrorists as Israel likes to claim. They are freedom fighters who are working for the liberation of their people and land.”

Marches were also held in Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin and the Gaza Strip. At the marches, political parties united around a single message. They called on the international community and human rights organizations to pressure Israeli authorities to free the prisoners. Protesters also demanded that Palestinian leadership make the freedom of the prisoners their first priority

This year, thousands of Palestinians remain in Israeli prison and many Palestinians continue to be arrested by soldiers every night, including women and children. The life of the prisoners is difficult: the prisoners lack basic medical treatment and family visits are severely restricted.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club and the Prisoners’ Affairs Authority, there are 6,500 Palestinians in Israeli detention, including 350 children and 62 women. Moreover, 1,800 prisoners are sick and in need of sustained medical attention. There are 19 Palestinian journalists in Israeli prisons and 12 Palestinians have been incarcerated for over 30 years.

The same sources add that 500 Palestinians are being held as administrative detainees. Israeli authorities are able to place Palestinians in administrative detention based on “secret evidence” and without charges or trial. They then can indefinitely renew administrative detention orders. This type of detention has always been the subject of strong criticism from human rights organizations and the international community. It is a constant concern for the detainee and his or her family, as they do not know when or if the person will ever be released.

Israeli authorities have yet to implement the agreement signed in March 2014 with the Palestinian Authority to release hundreds of prisoners who were arrested before the Oslo Accords.

Protests for Palestinian political prisoners in Nablus, April 17, 2018. Photo credit: Ayman Nubani for WAFA.

Ahmad Jaradat is the Senior Project Coordinator for the Alternative Information Center.

Ver online : AIC News