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New York activists continue to fight to free Bilal Kayed

By Michela Martinazzi |
August 24, 2016
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NYC activists raise their fist in solidarity with Bilal Kayed
NYC activists raise their fist in solidarity with Bilal Kayed (Fight Back! News/Staff)

New York, NY - On Aug. 23, the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and NYC Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) hosted a panel called “Frontlines of resistance: Bilal Kayed and the struggle for Palestine”, regarding the state of occupied Palestine and the fight that political prisoners are currently waging against their Israeli jailers.

Around 30 people gathered at the International Action Center to hear a panel of activists share their experience in the Palestinian solidarity movement.

Nerdeen Kiswani, from NYC SJP, began the event by giving a background of the state of the Palestinian solidarity movement in New York and the importance of demanding justice for Palestinian political prisoners. Kiswani introduced the first speaker, Joe Catron from the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

Catron, a longtime activist in New York, has been organizing diligently for the release of Bilal Kayed, a Palestinian political prisoner who has been on hunger strike for 70 days to protest his unfair detention. He began by reading a statement that Kayed wrote while at the Barzilai hospital:

“To the Palestinian masses, proud and steadfast

To those who reject everything but to stand for rights, homeland, glory and pride…

In my 70th day of the battle of pride, steadfastness and challenge in which we struggle together for the proud victory of Palestine and the movement of struggle and for every revolutionary victory in the project of the liberation of the land. I extend my words to be present with you on these stands of honor and freedom, hoping though in my last hours, the body may be absent and the mind fading, but the spirit is still holding fast to its decision, which cannot be deterred by any force in the world. Either victory or victory. Victory is near, God willing, and we raise the signs of victory always and forever….

And I, my mother, I will remain on my promise, and to my proud people, don’t drop the sign of victory, my mother, until I am victorious with you and for you, and together we will be the body and the bridge on which liberators and revolutionaries can cross…

The heights are our goal, and martyrdom in it is washing our sins and failures to elevate our homeland. A new stage of struggle that will be victorious when we protect its banner with honesty. Don’t drop the banner, “We return to resist, not to compromise,” as uttered by the martyr Abu Ali Mustafa, whose memory is now present among us.

Victory is inevitable.

Your brother,

Bilal Kayed

23 August 2016

Barzilai Hospital – Asqelan”

Catron finished by emphasizing the need to continue fighting and not stopping until justice is achieved.

One of the speakers, Leena from NYC SJP, had just visited Palestine this past summer to see her family. While on her trip, she ended up running into Kayed's family and was able to speak to them about his case and the fight to free him. During her speech she said, "In Palestine, Kayed's family has been very open about his involvement with the PFLP and how Israel is targeting him for defending his country. He refuses to take any of Israel's offers, such as going to Jordan for four years, and then maybe coming back to Palestine. Kayed views that as a betrayal to his people. He views it as admitting guilt for something that shouldn't be a crime."

The event ended with several questions from the audience and a letter writing session to Kayed to show solidarity.

Currently, Bilal Kayed is in the hospital entering the 71st day of his hunger strike. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network continues to organize weekly protests to demand his freedom. The next one will be this Friday, Aug. 27 at the G4S building at 4 p.m.