Interview With Two Leaders of the Palestine Struggle: Hunger strike, Women’s Resistance, and the Hope to Expel the Zionist Occupation
Amal Hamad y Muna Nemura, members of the National Secretariat of the General Union of Palestinian Womens, were in Havana, Cuba, in the framework of the celebrations for the International Worker’s Day and their participation in the International Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba. We talked with them the heroic struggle of the Palestinian prisoners, who have been in a hunger strike for over two weeks, and about the current fight of the women in Palestine.
We had heard that there were more representatives of the General Union of Palestinian Womens coming to Cuba. Was there a problem?
Originally five of us were supposed to come, but by decision of the occupation authority, three comrades were not allowed to leave.
What is the actual situation of the political prisoners? What are the reasons for this hunger strike?
The goal of the hunger strike is to claim for the rights that the occupation authorities deny to the Palestinian prisoners. Firstly, the right to food, health and medical attention, and secondly, for improvements to the jail infrastructure. The strike has entered its 16th day and 1650 prisoners are taking part in it, of a total 7000.
According to international law, when a prisoner spends 15 days or more on a hunger strike, it’s up to international institutions to protect the life of the prisoner. This is why we are doubling our efforts to internationalize the cause of the Palestinian prisoners.
Anywhere else in the world, a person with a Parliamentarian seat has some kind of protection under the law, except in Palestine, where 10 deputies are imprisoned in Zionist jails. This is the case of Marwan Barghouti, member of the Palestinian Parliament and of Fatah’s Central Committee, who is leading the hunger strike.
Also in the last few days, 20 prisoners whose health was in a critical status were transported. Let’s remember that last May 1, Worker’s Day was celebrated and 50% of the prisoners are workers.
Are the inmates in solitary confinement or they can receive visits from family?
In the prisons, life conditions are precarious and harsh. Prisoners from the Gaza strip are forbidden from receiving family visits, and a majority of them is in solitary confinement. And another part of the prisoners are under “administrative detention”, which is a mechanism Israel uses to imprison people without any kind of trial, and it’s renewed every 6 months.
There are many sick prisoners, due to the bad quality of the food given to them. We even suspect that the food has been treated with some kind of radiation, in order to provoke diseases. Because it so happens that when prisoners finally leave the jails, most of them die shortly afterwards. And we suspect they’re being murdered through food.
That is why we ask all the free and progressive friends of the world to show solidarity with the struggle and hunger strike of Palestinians, and support the demands for their liberation.
There is a particular case of a Palestinian kid who wanted to visit his imprisoned father, and the only way for him to do so was confront an officer in a checkpoint in order to be arrested, so he could see him. They have detained kids from 7 to 13 years old, and are imprisoned with criminals who are in jail for other crimes like drug-related crimes.
What is the most important vindication of the Palestinian Women of the federation? What is the objective of your struggle?
As women of the Palestinian people, we are part of the struggle for the liberation of our land, for independence and for the creation of the Palestinian State. In that sense, we work in contexts of struggle really defined, in the creation of the Palestinian State; in the defense of the heroic Palestinian prisoners and in putting an end to the Gaza strip blockade; including resistance against colonies and settlers.
Another part is the social struggle, to concretize the concept of social justice. Any woman has the same human rights as a man in relation to work, legislation and laws. Social revolution is the education of men and women, is the conjoint work of all the social relations that exist, and Palestine has signed agreements about social justice and conjoint work.
That is why the Palestinian women’s struggle is double, against occupation and against the social heritage of machismo.
What is the situation of imprisoned women? There is one Palestinian woman who left jail 15 years later.
According to statistics, 18,000 Palestinian women have been detained since 1967. Currently, we have 59 female political prisoners that are placed with common criminals, and they also suffer solitary confinement, lack of visiting rights and cruelty.
Against women they use psychological torture that target our culture and religion, and they often receive rape threats, which is one of the things that mostly affects a woman’s psychology.
In the case of pregnant prisoners, they take babies out of prison, away from their mothers, when they’re four months old. Some women have even given birth with their feet and hands chained. It’s an expression of oppression and constant humiliation.
They also do not take into account the specific need that a prisoners have as woman. There is no medical attention, only an aspirin if they suffer pain. When a woman is sick, they transfer her to a clinic, where she suffers mistreatment and isolation. But what is worst, is the humiliation that little Palestine girls suffer all the time, they are abused and detained without any sort of trial.
Lina al-Jarbouni is considered to be the prisoner who has been in jail for the longest amount of time. When she got out, after 15 years, she talked about the pains that Palestinian inmates suffer inside Zionist jails, and gave details of the mistreatments that women and girls suffer. A woman that leaves jail after 15 years, after suffering all the inhumane methods that are applied in jail, needs time for recuperation. She suffered physical and psychological aggressions against her dignity, and as a Palestine woman, the most important thing for her is her dignity as a human being, because that is the social identity she has.