South Africans are called to join a national one day symbolic 24 hour fast and day of action on the 15th of May in solidarity with thousands of Palestinians who are on a mass hunger strike. South Africa’s pro-Palestine movement have launched a nationwide action to support 1500 Palestinian political prisoners who launched an open-ended hunger strike across Israeli jails, detention centers and prisons over a week ago.
The hunger strike has the support of the Palestinian political organizations as well as civil society bodies. Kwara Kekana from BDS in South Africa says the campaign is supported by a broad base of South African organizations including the National Coalition 4 Palestine (NC4P).
“A number of different organizations have joined in solidarity with this campaign including the BDS South Africa, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the National Coalition for Palestine (an umbrella body for state union organizations, political parties), the MJC and the South African Jews for a Free Palestine,” Kekana said.
Over 6000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel as political prisoners over recent years. Mistreatment in these prisons, including Israeli laws breaking international law in initial arrest, has brought about continuous resistance from prisoners in the form of hunger strikes. This coupled with international organizations in solidarity with the plight of the Palestinian political prisoners, some as young as 7 years old, has brought to light the latest in the cause calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Hunger strikes, with all its medical consequences, yields increased political dissention against those protested against. The Palestinian hunger strikes which started off with the op-ed that Marwan Barghouti miraculously managed to publish in an international edition of the New York Times, garnered increase recognition, bringing very many an organization to support the cause.
The South African pro-Palestinian movement have a number of events planned in coming weeks to protest the mistreatment.
“The program of action planned set up for solidarity initiatives include pickets at the legislatures across provinces on the 15th May, visits to these Israeli jails, symbolic national days of hunger strikes and fasting on the 3rd May. The 15th May also marks the Nakba day, which is significant in the conflict as symbolic of the day of The Catastrophe.”
This includes a number of international programmes for action in response to the hunger strike.
“In New York and London, they are having similar solidarity activities to us, including demonstrations and discussions at universities, raising awareness over the legislation of Israel against Palestinian political prisoners, which mirrors detention without trial that we had in South Africa. You have over 500 serving administered detention as well as over 300 children serving sentences. These are the issues we are highlighting, as part of a call to end the occupation and to free all Palestinian political prisoners.” VOC