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Chicago commemorates International Palestinian Prisoners Day

By Bill Chambers |
April 23, 2013
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Chicago action on International Palestinian Prisoners Day.
Chicago action on International Palestinian Prisoners Day. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Signs at Chicago protest in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners.
Signs at Chicago protest in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners.

Chicago, IL - During the week of International Palestinian Prisoners Day, over 20 activists from the Palestine Solidarity Group, United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), Students for Justice in Palestine and other organizations braved the bitter cold to stage “Intifada Theater” at the Bean in Millennium Park, April 19.

The performance included scenes that Palestinians know all too well - being detained for taking part in a peaceful protest, being harassed by Israeli soldiers on the way to school and being tortured by Israeli prison guards who threaten your family. And while the actors performed their parts, the chorus rang out - "Freedom to protest? Not for Palestinians! Freedom from racist harassment? Not for Palestinians! Freedom from arrest without charge? Not for Palestinians! Freedom from torture? Not for Palestinians!"

Chicago's action was one of dozens of worldwide protests for the over 4900 Palestinian political prisoners, including children and administrative detainees (jailed without charge or trial), who are held in Israeli jails.

Amongst the most prominent of them to make international news, one is Samer Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for over 250 days, refusing to end it until he wins freedom without conditions. Another is Arafat Jaradat, tortured to death in an Israeli prison; and Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who died of cancer after being refused proper medical treatment by the Israeli prison service.

The Israelis, with the support from the U.S. government, continue unabated their illegal policies of jailing Palestinians without charge or trial, jailing children in violation of all international laws and torturing prisoners regardless of their age or gender.

But we have also seen the resistance of Palestinian prisoners to this repression, with waves of hunger strikes throughout the prisons, reminding many of the H Block Martyrs in the north of Ireland. We've seen Palestinians taking to the streets to protest the treatment of the men and women who resist the occupation of their land. And we've seen the protests by Palestinians and solidarity activists across the world - supporting the demands of freedom and justice for all Palestinian political prisoners, the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian and Arab land, self-determination for the Palestinian people, and the Right of Return for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

As we go to press, there is an initial agreement with the Israelis for Samer Issawi to remain in prison for eight months and then to be released to his hometown of al-Issawia in the East Jerusalem district. The worldwide protests for Samer Issawi have supported his refusal to be deported and to be returned to his homeland, a right shared by all Palestinians.