Activists from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Cape Town will hold a public demonstration in support of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held without trial. In Johannesburg, the PSC has recently recorded a video message of solidarity, for the hunger strikers in Palestine who are demanding an end to administrative detention. Israel’s notorious policy of unjust incarceration is familiar to South Africans as the apartheid regime used a similar police called ‘detention without trial’.
At the time of the video recording highlighting Bilal Kayed’s cause , the 34 year old Palestinian, was in his eight week of his hunger strike which he embarked upon after having his scheduled release in June 2016 revoked and was detained yet again for a further 6 months – this after having served 14 and half years in prison.
Kayed, whose health has since deteriorated drastically, has just suspended his 71 day hunger strike after an agreement was reached stipulating that his administrative detention will not be renewed further than 12 December 2016.
His hunger strike has however ignited a campaign of protests by his fellow Palestinian prisoners who continue their hunger strike in protest against arbitrary detention namely Mohammad Balboul, Mahmoud Balboul, Ayyad Al-Hreimeh, and Malek Al-Qadi.
Administrative detention, reminiscent of apartheid South Africa’s ‘detention without trial’ legislation which denied people the right to habeas corpus, continues as Israel practices the indefinite incarceration of Palestinians. The current number of administrative detainees is more than 10% of the 7,000 Palestinian prisoners i.e. 750 prisoners, of whom 7 are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. This excludes the tens of thousands, including minors, who have been detained under administrative detention since 1948 when Israel was established against the wishes of the indigenous Palestinians.
Administrative detention as practised by Israel is in contravention of International Conventions and other international standards. These violations include the denial of the right to public trials in that reviews of detention orders generally take place in closed court hearings and military courts. The lack of effective judicial review and judgements are based, in most cases, on arbitrary and cursory examination of evidence by judges.
Finally there is the barring of visits from family members to administrative detainees. Thus, in all respects, administrative detention violates major international standards and is a gross violation of human rights.
Another aspect of its use is as a form of collective punishment. The detention of Kayed, a known leader of the Palestinian prison movement in Megiddo Prison, shows how far the occupation authority seeks to instil fear so as to discourage dissent inside the prisons as well as to curtail emerging Palestinian leaders.
They include Mohammed Abu Sakha, circus performer and teacher; Jerusalemite human rights defender Hasan Safadi; youth organizer Bilal Abu Diab; members of the Palestinian Legislative Council such as Abdel-Jaber Fuquha and Hatem Kufaisha; and journalist and union leader Omar Nazzal.
“The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, in recognising the similar abuse of human rights as a state strategy in the 80’s in South Africa under apartheid law, condemns the practice of administrative detention and endorses the call to free Bilal Kayed and all other administrative detainees,” said the PSC in a statement.
The video message of solidarity, recorded at Constitutional Hill will be followed by a programme of action over the next few weeks to highlight the cause of unjustly incarcerated Palestinian political prisoners.
“We exhort people of conscience in South Africa to join in the International Solidarity campaign. Protests have taken place in countries like Brazil, Sweden, USA, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Our call includes building the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to isolate Israel, its institutions, and multi-national corporations like G4S that profit from imprisonment, occupation, racism, colonialism and injustice,” the statement read further.
The picket takes place from 12.30 – 3pm) at the entrance to the Company Gardens near St Georges Cathedral, Wale Street, Cape Town.
The video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/e8B-QJuNook)