Friday, April 26, 2013

Samer Issawi's victory letter from hospital

Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi ended his 266 day hunger strike on Wed 24th April following an agreement with Israel guaranteeing his release home.

This is a statement from his hospital bed:
Now, I plead for a continuation of the popular movement and its escalation on all fronts, in order to struggle for our political prisoners. I also call for the continuation of the political and diplomatic mobilization to internationalize the issue of the political prisoners, and to turn to the International Criminal Court in order to indict the judges of the occupation under international law, for the crimes that are being perpetrated against the Palestinian people.

Samer Issawi's parents, Tariq and Layla, holding a photo of Samer one day after Samer guaranteed his freedom and ended his hunger strike (Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

(translation by Tariq Shadid, @docjazzmusic)

God is Great, Praise be to God
God is Great, Praise be to God
God is Great, Praise be to God

I thank God above all for this victory, and for his generosity in granting it to me.

To start this letter, I would like to offer my apology to all who supported me in this battle, a battle of dignity and loyalty to the martyrs of Gaza, and the wounded and distressed as a result of the animosity they were exposed to when the Zionists waged a failed attempt to free the Israeli soldier “from inside of the can”, as they call it. However, they found it be a wide open space, despite the advanced technology that they possess, and despite the support from all over the world, and despite having intelligence services from all countries of the world at their disposal, they were unable to liberate him.

I was wishing for my release to be immediate, and this was my standpoint, but after a number of political prisoners started an open-ended hunger strike in solidarity with me, and being afraid for their well-being, and out of concern for the prisoners movement, and not wanting them to suffer for my sake from the same things I suffered during my hunger strike, I was compelled to accept the final proposal that was offered to me, which is an actual prison sentence of 8 months, effective from the moment of signing the agreement, and the return to my beloved Jerusalem.

Praise be to God, the demands that I had waged my open-ended hunger strike for, out of loyalty to the martyrs, were met, and from the beginning my demands have been: defending the dignity of our nation, and shedding light upon the violations of the occupation of the agreements under the “Fulfillment of the Free” deal, and the prohibition of re-arresting freed political prisoners in this deal, rejection of the reinforcement of previous sentences, calling a halt to the policy of extradition, and the right to return to our land.

Secondly, the negotiations that were conducted with me by sending negotiation teams under the supervision of negotiation specialists and Shabak agents were very strenuous, and continued for several hours a day, but I did not budge. The first offer they made me was that I would be banished to Gaza for 10 years, but I refused this completely. Then they offered to extradite me to any country of my choice, so I told them I will not accept the idea of extradition, and that with full mental abilities, unmarred by any weaknesses of the will, I totally rejected the idea of extradition altogether, even if they extradited me to honorable Gaza. Even though it is a part of my homeland, I insisted that I wish to return to the holy lands, to my home, in the arms of my parents and my family, and to my village. I said, and I repeated: either Jerusalem, or martyrdom, there is no third choice. I refused to bow for the occupation and its humiliations, and I refused to be a bridge that gets crossed, and I refused to abandon the blood of the martyrs and the sighs of the wounded who fell for the sake of the liberation of the political prisoners.

My mere refusal to accept extradition was my first victory over the occupation, including refusing extradition to Gaza, because this calls to mind the operations of forced expulsion that befell the Palestinians in 1948 and 1967. We are currently waging a struggle for the liberation of the land and the return of the refugees, not to add other displaced people to them. The systematic methods that ‘Israel’ is applying, in order to expel the Palestinians from their land, and to replace the original land owners with mercenaries, is the essence of the crime, and therefore I reject the idea of extradition to any other location. I told them:

“I prefer death on my hospital bed over my expulsion from Jerusalem. Jerusalem is my soul and my life, and if I should be torn away from it it would be as if my soul was ripped from my body. There is no life without Jerusalem or without Al Aqsa, any land will be insufficient for me after Jerusalem, so my return will be to Jerusalem and to nowhere else.”

I was not considering this to be a personal issue that only concerns Samer Issawi, but a national issue with the conviction and principles that every Palestinian who loves his land adheres to. The negotiation team then understood that extradition could not be included in the possibilities, and that it should be dropped from the agenda of negotiations.

I also informed the military court that I would boycott their sessions, and that I consider this court to be illegal, and its presence on Palestinian lands illegal. How can I be judged in a court that is illegal, and where the magistrates are judging me for having entered Palestinian territories, despite the fact that their courthouse is situated on Palestinian land illegally? I told them that my representation in front of this court would be considered a recognition of its legitimacy and the lawfulness of the presence of the occupation on Palestinian land, of which there is no question whatsoever. Therefore, the military court was forced to send its magistrates to the hospital in order to learn of the reasons for my refusal to be represented in the court. I conveyed my answer to them, which ignited their irritation and ire, and this I consider to be my second victory over the occupation.

After they had discarded the idea of extradition, they started to talk about years of factual imprisonment , and their first suggestion was 10 years, so I started downplaying and reducing it after I asserted my determination to be released, and I managed to reach eight months, which is what I consider to be the third victory. The will of the enemy broke in the face of the will of the Palestinian people, who refuse to succumb.

After I accepted their offer to be imprisoned for 8 months, I requested the presence of the defense team, in order to complete its status, and to sign it, and to set the legal proceedings in motion to bring this agreement into the light, in order to seal the victory that I had been longing for since my imprisonment, which was to be released to Jerusalem.

Since then, I am on this bed of victory, conveying my greetings to all who stood by me, without exception, and I will not specify these mentions out of fear of complaints. I value and appreciate all who supported me in order to realize this victory, whether by deed, or action, or words, or prayer, and may God grace them with blessings on behalf of me and on behalf of the Palestinian people. I also convey my greetings to all the soldiers who took part in this battle, despite the length of it. They persisted during this long time in the face of the aggressor, and they bore with all the suffering and pain that they were exposed to by the oppression of the occupation. Still, they insisted on pursuing this battle until victory, despite all the suffering and the woes that befell them from continued arrests and injuries in their ranks, and the injuries they suffered from rubber bullets, and despite the tears they shed as a result of the tear gas grenades.

After all this suffering, here we are today, celebrating the victory that was sealed thanks to your persistence in this heroic battle, you and all the free people of the world who shared this battle with us, and this victory proves to the occupation that Justice prevails each and every time, and that Injustice and the perpetrators of it, always lose.

I send my blessings to the mothers of the martyrs and I salute the families of the wounded who sacrificed their should and their limbs, for the sake of the execution and realization of the ‘Fulfillment of the Free’, and for the sake of the one and a half million of our people in Gaza who paid a heavy price, in the form of the blockade and the starvation in order to pressure them to release the soldier. Despite this, our people in Gaza insisted on keeping this soldier in their custody, with the aim of sealing the largest prisoner exchange deal in the history of the Palestinian people. Here we are today, hanging on to all these sacrifices and achievements, with our victory in this battle that we dedicate to Gaza. I kept the promise that I made, which was either martyrdom or release to Jerusalem, and here it is. Freedom is on its way soon, God willing.

Truly, when I was remembering the martyrs and the wounded and the distressed in Gaza, who sacrificed for our release, I would feel strengthened and determined, and I would consider that backing down and giving up on victory would be like treason to those who sacrificed in order to secure our freedom under the “Fulfillment of the Free” deal. My victory is their victory, and their suffering was my suffering.

And I will not forget to salute the unknown soldiers in this battle, in written and audiovisual media, who played an essential role in this great victory that was achieved. I also salute all those who strove to support me among poets, composers and singers, and helped expose this struggle to all corners of the world, and played a role that is not of less importance than the other roles.

Now, I plead for a continuation of the popular movement and its escalation on all fronts, in order to struggle for our political prisoners. I also call for the continuation of the political and diplomatic mobilization to internationalize the issue of the political prisoners, and to turn to the International Criminal Court in order to indict the judges of the occupation under international law, for the crimes that are being perpetrated against the Palestinian people.

I salute you, and I salute your steadfastness, and I hope to meet you soon, and that we will celebrate the true victory of the liberation of Palestine, with Blessed Jerusalem as its capital. We will meet soon in the Holy City, God willing.

Your son and your brother
Samer Issawi
Kaplan Medical Center

No comments:

Post a Comment