April 17th: Palestinian Prisoners Day
April 17th, 2017 marks Palestinian Prisoner’s Day. Today, hundreds of Palestinian Prisoners begin a mass hunger strike to protest ongoing violations of their dignity in the occupier’s prison cells. We, the Palestinian Youth Movement, stand in full solidarity with all Palestinian prisoners and we remember and call attention to how Palestine is not the only physical site of our ongoing colonization. Every barricade that cages and traps our people is a physical site and instrument of Zionist oppression. Inside of the Zionist entity’s jails are Palestinians who are subjected to wide ranges of administrative detentions and abuses, including the systemic denial of family visitations, with no due process involved in their cases. One of many cases is that of Palestinian student Kifah Quzmar of Bir Zeit University. Kifah has been imprisoned at the Moskobiyeh interrogation center in Jerusalem without charge or access to legal representation and launched a hunger strike in protest on March 26th.
Along with the policies of the Zionist entity that are deeply embedded in racist and settler subjugation, the collaborations of the Palestinian Authority not only enforces the settler project but protects and internalize all rationales and practices that it deploys in order to destroy Palestinian liberation. Thus, while we believe that the immediate end to all security coordination with the Zionist entity is essential for any political body that claims to work for the genuine betterment of the Palestinian people, we maintain that the Palestinian Authority’s shameless collaboration with the colonial force that continues our dispossession and oppression by allowing for the Zionist entity to outsource its incarceration and torture tactics reflects a searing betrayal of our people and struggle.
In March of 2016, the PA incarcerated and tortured Basil al-Araj along with five other Palestinians. In August of the same year, the six launched a hunger strike that secured their release, but following the Zionist occupation forces’ assassination of our martyr Basil al-Araj, the PA brutally cracked down on all demonstrations opposing its ongoing colonial collaboration and even initially tried to prosecute Basil post-mortem. Basil’s struggles are only one example of how the PA ultimately acts as a legal and political extension of the Zionist entity, expanding the carceral system exponentially and working diligently to stifle all dissent. We reject the PA’s betrayal and exploitation of our people and cause for its own personal gain, and we reject the Oslo Accords that have only normalized our colonization and greatly fragmented Palestinian political life. We, therefore demand not only an end to security coordination but to the Oslo framework that necessitates said coordination while simultaneously intensifying our colonization in the homeland and shutting out, both literally and figuratively, millions of Palestinians in exile.
We further recognize that the connection between our colonization and incarceration extends to the US: Rasmea Odeh, a renowned organizer within the Chicago community for forty years, was imprisoned in November 2014, allegedly for false procurement of naturalization, but in what was undoubtedly an attempt to silence her for her outspoken support and activism for a liberated Palestine. It is not new to Palestinians that the carceral systems have long been used to de-legitimize our cause, break our morale and spirit and as a way of silencing political activism. In the US the prison’s centrality in the ongoing legacies of racial chattel slavery and indigenous genocide means that US prisons are critical sites of racial and settler-colonial subjugation and oppression.
From the US to Palestine, we recognize that true liberation will only come with the end of racist and settler-colonial prisons and police forces. On Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, PYM USA is united with our people in the homeland in declaring:
No more Prisons!
End security coordination!
End the Oslo Accords! Free the people!
Free the land!
Join PYM and several Palestinian organizers across the world as we march and mobilize in actions taking place in 16 different cities around the world.