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Battle of empty stomachs

Letter of Ahmed Sa’adat, Secretary general of the PFLP, from the hunger strikers in Israeli prisons

5. May 2012
Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat

Over 1600 Palestinian prisoners are currently engaged in a steadfast and open-ended hunger strike that launched on April 17, 2012 - Palestinian Prisoners' Day. Ahmad Sa'adat, Palestinian national leader and General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is among these prisoners, once again taking up the "Battle of the Empty Stomachs" to demand justice and dignity, and has now been on hunger strike for 12 days.

Palestinian hunger strikers are demanding an end to isolation and solitary confinement; an end to administrative detention; access to family visits for all prisoners, including those from Gaza; and access to education and media. Sa’adat has been held in isolation for over three years, since March 2009.

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike have demanded international solidarity. Take action today to stand for freedom, dignity and justice for Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian Prisoners! See below for actions you can take.

In a breaking news report, Palestinian political prisoners from the PFLP have rejected an occupation offer to end Sa’adat’s isolation if they would break the hunger strike. They refused – the hunger strike includes prisoners from all Palestinian factions, united in their demands.

A new letter from Ahmad Sa’adat – to his family, the Palestinian and Arab people and the world – was released today, smuggled from his isolation cell.

It calls for support for the hunger strike on Palestinian, Arab and international levels:

Dearest Umm Ghassan, and all my loved ones;

Ghassan, Amal, Iba, Loay, Sumoud, Yassar, and my whole family;

Do not worry, my health is much better than in the previous hunger strike, and I am confident it will remain so. Thank you for your continual support to my position in this hunger strike. As is the case in every strike, they took all of our electrical appliances, canteen, clothing…we only have left prison clothes, some change of underwear, pajamas, towels, soap and toothpaste.

All of us have lost about 5-7 kilograms in weight, but everyone is in good health and most importantly, high morale, and are determined to continue the strike. We are confident of victory, relying on the justice of our cause and our demands, and the support of the masses of our people, our nation, and the free world – individuals, organizations and institutions – standing, as always alongside our just struggle.

These demands include a number of legitimate human rights under international law, including abolition of solitary confinement as a dangerous form of torture with no security or legal justification and contrary to international humanitarian law and all international conventions that prohibit torture. We are also demanding an end to the prohibition of family visits to the prisoners from Gaza for more than seven years, as well as interference with family visitors from the West Bank under the pretext of ‘security reasons’, and demanding that such visits be allowed for extended as well as immediate family.

What we need from the masses of the people, political forces and institutions is to raise the voices and the call of our just demands of the prisoners with a unified voice, and not subject the cause of the prisoners to internal disputes or the management of division.

This strike includes participation from all political forces and factions, without exception, and the best gift from the political forces supporting us is to implement agreements for unity, on which the ink is not yet dry. Such unity is an essential foundation, the most important pillar to achieve our just national goals.

In conclusion, I salute and thank all of the Palestinian, Arab and international forces standing beside our just struggle.

Forward to victory!

Ahmad Sa’adat
April 24, 2012
Eighth day of hunger strike