Member of the Fatah Central Committee and the leader of the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike in Israeli jails MP Marwan al-Barghouthi sent a letter to the world parliamentarians and the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe appealing to them to support the cause of the hunger strikers.
In a letter distributed to the world parliaments and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which includes 47 countries and represents 800 million citizens in Europe, Barghouthi talked about the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike which has been launched by 1,500 Palestinian prisoners since April 17.
Barghouthi’s letter, which he wrote in anticipation of his isolation and the isolation of the striking prisoners, appeals to the world parliaments to support the strike and the prisoners’ just and legitimate demands.
Here is the full text of the letter:
Dear colleague MPs,
If you are reading this message now, it means that the Israeli occupation has chosen to continue its repressive policies and collective punishment against the Palestinian prisoners and incite against them instead of responding to their legitimate demands. Your reading of this message means that I have been put in solitary confinement again with other hunger strikers, but we will not stay silent, we will not give up, and our resoluteness will never be broken.
The prisoners’ hunger strike is a legitimate and peaceful method to defend their rights which are guaranteed by the international law. We started this strike after months of exhausting all our efforts and attempts to achieve our legitimate demands regarding the collective arbitrary arrests of Palestinians, torture and other punitive measures, deliberate medical negligence, family visits, the right of education, and other basic rights.
I appreciate your solidarity with your fellow imprisoned MPs and appreciate the world parliaments’ support for the rights of the Palestinian people. However, Israel continues to arrest the Palestinian MPs. I was the first Palestinian MP to be arrested in 2002, and since then, Israel arrested 70 MPs, which is more than half of the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. 13 of them are still in detention, which is an insult to all parliamentarians, democracy, human rights, justice and freedom.
The fate of the Palestinian MPs is the fate of the people they represent. The Israeli occupation has arrested 8,000 Palestinians in 50 years, equivalent to 40% of the Palestinian males in the occupied Palestinian territories. 6,500 of them are still under detention. Our pursuit of freedom is our undeclared charge.
The Israeli law permits settlement, collective punishment, discrimination and apartheid. Is it normal not to hold those who support these laws accountable? The Israeli parliamentarians incited and encouraged our arrest, and here they sit among you in international parliamentary forums while they prevent us from doing so.
The Israeli courts are also part of this colonial military occupation which has always been aimed at taking over our land, displacing our people and removing our roots. We have evidence and facts unlike the Israeli courts which depend on baseless claims. These military courts have convicted Palestinians with a rate up to 90-99%. I say it again: This is a judicial apartheid that condemns the Palestinian existence and steadfastness but grants immunity to Israelis who commit blatant crimes against our people.
As you know, I was convicted by an Israeli court that I refused to recognize, especially as a representative of a people under occupation. I was sentenced to 5 life sentences and 40 years for “terrorism” in a mock political trial with the testimony of international observers.
The Palestinian prisoners have always suffered from injustice and oppression. In the recent years, however, the Israeli occupation authorities have deprived the prisoners of their rights, which they were able to clinch through previous hunger strikes. We had to confront this escalation, so we decided to start this strike because Israel left us no other choice. The Palestinians have always been forced to sacrifice for the sake of their basic rights.
We called this hunger strike the Strike of Freedom and Dignity because we have suffered for 70 years and will continue to strive for our freedom and dignity. Freedom and dignity are fundamental human values. Peace cannot be achieved between the oppressors and the oppressed. It cannot be achieved with the presence of injustice and between prisoners and jailers. Freedom is the only path to peace.
I call upon you to raise your voice for those who Israel attempts to silence. I appeal to you to stand for those who have been pushed into prisons to be forgotten, and to support the Palestinian striking prisoners and the Palestinian people’s freedom and dignity until peace prevails.
Some people may think that this is the end and that we are going to perish here in solitary confinement, but I know that despite this unfair isolation, we are not alone. I know that millions of Palestinians and others all around the world stand with us and are on our side. I tell you all that freedom is near.