How do we support the dignity strike?
What do freedom prisoners need to improve their prison conditions?
What do they need from their people, from the Arabs, and from the peoples of the free world?
How can real solidarity with them be expressed?
Is it useful for them that we fall into self-blaming? Do prayers help them? Or wishes? Or to sing praise of their heroism?
How can we raise the bar for the confrontation in terms of the battle of empty stomachs, as the leader Marwan Al Barghouthi puts it?
How can we link the continuation of the strike with the steadfastness of the prisoners as the leader Ahmad Sa’adaat puts it?
How do we shorten the duration of the strike rather than prolonging it for the sake of the lives of the prisoners as Fadwa Al Barghouthi puts it?
What are the elements that formed the basis of the decision of the freedom prisoners when they decided to engage in this peaceful confrontation with their oppressors through the hunger strike?
Marwan Al Barghouthhi’s three letters addressed to the Palestinian people, school students, and the international community came to define the demands of the prisoners from the Palestinian people wherever they are, particularly the youth, and the demands from the international community.
In order to clarify the just humanitarian demands of the prisoners in terms of improving their prison conditions, Marwan Al Barghouthi started his letter by describing his suffering since his first arrest, his torturing as a child, all the way through his last arrest. He embodied the ongoing suffering and the various methods of torture that all freedom prisoners, men, women, children, and elderly, were subjected to and that constitute a clear violation by the occupation of the Third Geneva Convention on treatment of prisoners of war. This Convention “ that prohibits violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” and that reiterates the following “Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.”
It also demonstrates the occupation’s violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention which is considered the cornerstone for the International Humanitarian Law and that set the legal and humanitarian criteria and standards for treatment of civilians under occupation. The Fourth Geneva Convention stipulated the “prohibition of torture as a violation of the humanity of a person.”
To demonstrate the need to raise the bar in terms of the Palestinian confrontation, Marwan Al Barghouthi pointed out to the Palestinian self-factor that could achieve that primarily through more engagement of youth and more of their creativity. He demonstrated that through the letter that he addressed to the school students reiterating that “education is the key for change among peoples and nations. By education I mean modern education that provides for significant space for scientific and philosophic specializations, raising generations on critical thinking, enhancing the mentality of dialogue, acceptance of the other, partnership, pluralism, freedom of opinion, thought, and conviction, the freedom of women as the real embodiment and the utmost demonstration of the freedom of peoples, nations, and homelands.”
As for intensifying the confrontation at the international level, and in line with the impact of the BDS movement against Israel as a state of racist occupation, Al Barghouthi discussed this in the letter he wrote from his prison cell in Hadarim and sent it to be published in the New York Times showing deep awareness of the importance of addressing the free world in a political, human right, and humane language and of the importance of linking the Palestinian struggle with its international dimension.
In answering the question about the means through which the continuation of the strike can be linked with the steadfastness of prisoners, leader Ahmad Sa’adaat called upon all the prisoners to gradually join the open hunger strike to include all of them. Through this invitation, Sa’adaat linked the continuation of the strike and the steadfastness of prisoners with the “actions of the popular uproar in the West Bank villages, towns, cities, and refugee camps.”
How do we shorten or prolong the duration of the strike? This cannot take place except through popular and official pressure to help realize the just and humane demands of the prisoners as soon as possible in order to preserve their precious lives.
It is true that support to the question of prisoners has escalated since day one of the hunger strike until now at the local, Arab, and international levels, and it is true that this support came in different forms, yet what is still needed is more creativity, and more expansion of the support to reach out and get the attention of the world forcing the occupation to respect international agreements regarding the rights of freedom prisoners and apply them so that prisoners do not suffocate inside the walls of their prisons.
True loyalty to the question of prisoners can happen by associating it with a national liberation strategy that can defeat the racist Zionist project, adopting this strategy at the official and popular letter, in action rather than words and then mobilize at all political, human rights economic, cultural, and social levels locally, at the level of the Arab world, and internationally to realize this strategy armed with our right to all forms of resistance, our right to justice, and our right to free and dignified life.