As we mark Palestinian Prisoners Day, we would like to share the voice of Falistine Kamel whose Dad, Rami, was exiled from Palestine at just 22. Her powerful testimony of a family in exile reminds us of the injustice of the occupation, the sacrifices made for freedom and the determination and steadfastness of those who resist.
“On the 10th of May, 2002, the exile of thirteen Palestinian freedom fighters took place after they were under siege from the Israeli army in the Nativity Church for 39 days with no food or water. My father, Rami Kamel, was one of those men. My Baba was only 22 when he was exiled from Palestine. A 22 year old fighting for the freedom of the Palestinian people. It has been nineteen years since my Baba was brought to Ireland, with no return to home in sight and seventeen years since I last saw my sido and seedo (grandmother and grandfather) as a baby leaving me with no memories of them but my Baba’s. When we speak about them, I see the pain in my Baba’s eyes knowing he will never meet and hug his parents again – knowing that his children will never have the opportunity to see their grandparents again and ultimately, just wanting to tell them that he loves them to their face while eating his mothers makluba or sitting beside his father. Palestine has always been the bitter sweet topic of our conversations – always wanting to go home and be with our cousins and uncles and aunts and do the most mundane things like eat a meal at the same table and go walk around the streets of Bethlehem together, as a family. We don’t want to be part of the Palestinian diaspora (although still proud)- so detached from our culture and family – we just want to be home as Palestinians.
Being a Palestinian is the most difficult identity to have in this world. No one can truly understand the difficulties of carrying our history around. To either be living in the midst of a war or growing up as part of diaspora – it is still a struggle. Despite being raised in Ireland, I have always felt somewhat detached from the Irish culture. I never felt like I could relate to someone about being unable to visit my home due to the nature of the Israeli occupation, while also feeling so detached from the culture that is rightfully mine as a Palestinian. Every day, whether it be in Palestine or across the globe, my Baba and I have to fight for not only our freedom but our identity and rights as human beings.”
The Mission of the State of Palestine would like to share this information with you on the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners Day, observed annually on the 17th April.
Israel, the occupying power, uses arbitrary arrest, detention and home raids as a tool to oppress our people. Every Palestinian family has been affected or is vulnerable to these draconian and oppressive policies.
• There are currently 4450 Palestinians being held by Israel, including 37 women and 140 children.
• 440 of those being held are administrative detainees, meaning they have not been charged with any offence nor have they been allowed the due process of a trial.
• Palestinians are tried under Israeli military law and face military courts, in stark contrast with the illegal settlers who live on their land and are ruled by Israeli civilian laws.
• Military courts have a 99% conviction rate against the Palestinians who face them
• Most of those convicted are forcibly transferred and held outside of the occupied territories, in breach of international law
The State of Palestine stands wholeheartedly behind our political prisoners, as they have stood against the illegal colonisation and prolonged occupation in legitimate resistance. We support our prisoners on an international stage, and are firmly against the use of military courts for our civilian population. Palestinians routinely face fair trial violations before Israeli military courts. The Israeli military authorities through the exercise of executive, legislative and judicial powers effectively enforce control over the Palestinian territory, suppress any form of Palestinian resistance against the occupation’s policies, and dissuade the Palestinian people from their right to self-determination.
Palestinians have a right to justice and equality. We ask the international community to work with us to uphold the rights and dignity of political prisoners, and to ensure and end to breaches of international law.