The following statement was forwarded to TPQ by Steven Katsineris. It was released by the Campaign in Solidarity with the Struggler Omar Nayef Zayed, having been issued by Palestinian organizers inside and outside occupied Palestine, demanding the freedom of, and an end to extradition proceedings against Omar Nayef Zayed, a Palestinian community leader and former prisoner who is now facing threats of arrest by the Bulgarian state due to the pursuit of the Israeli occupation.
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Omar Nayef Zayed, a Palestinian Arab citizen, was born in Jenin, Palestine in 1963; liberated from the prisons of the occupation in 1990; living in Bulgaria for over 21 years; has been seeking refuge in the Palestinian embassy in Sofia for approximately one week. He has been forced to seek refuge, to protect himself and his family, because the Bulgarian authorities are attempting to arrest and extradite him to the occupation state, under the pretext of the criminal extradition agreement of the Council of Europe, to which the Zionist state is a party.
Omar Zayed, the struggler, refuses to surrender to the Bulgarian authorities for the following reasons:
First, because he refuses to deal with his case as a criminal or civil matter or an individual issue; it is a national and collective concern, and first and foremost a political matter and a political issue. He was arrested in 1986 and charged with legitimate resistance to the Israeli occupation, which is a natural right guaranteed under international law.
Second, because the sentence issued against him by the Israeli occupation military court is no longer valid, due to various bilateral agreements between the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Israeli state, beginning with the Oslo accords in 1993 and subsequent agreements; his sentence is obsolete and no longer valid for extradition.
Third, the struggler Zayed spent over three years in Israeli jails, from 1986 to 1990, and was subject upon his capture by the Israeli military to torture, oppression and deprivation. He conducted an open hunger strike for 40 days in the occupation prisons, which caused him to be transferred to hospital for treatment, and he suffers the physical effects of his experience to the present day.
Fourth, since his arrival in Bulgaria 21 years ago, Omar Zayed has built a life: married, with two sons and a daughter, respected Bulgarian laws, and never faced any criminal or other issues in Bulgaria.
The liberated prisoner Omar Zayed has repeatedly and consistently declared that he is a struggler for the freedom of the Palestinian people and their national and human cause. His decision to refuse to surrender himself to the local authorities is undertaken as part of his responsibility and national duty to reject the Zionist occupation and its racist and unjust laws, and to confront all attacks against the Palestinian people, its liberated prisoners, and its strugglers, whether in occupied Palestine, in Europe, or anywhere in the world.
Campaign of Solidarity with Omar Nayef Zayed
26 December 2015
Information from Samidoun, Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.
Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is a network of organizers and activists, based in North America, working to build solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in their struggle for freedom. Samidoun developed out of the September-October 2011 hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, seeing a need for a dedicated network to support Palestinian prisoners. We work to raise awareness and provide resources about Palestinian political prisoners, their conditions, their demands, and their work for freedom for themselves, their fellow prisoners, and their homeland. We also work to organize campaigns to make political change and advocate for Palestinian prisoners’ rights and freedoms.
Samidoun seeks to achieve justice for Palestinian prisoners through events, activities, resources, delegations, research and information-sharing, as well as building bridges with the prisoners’ movement in Palestine. We seek to amplify the voices of Palestinian prisoners, former prisoners, prisoners’ families, and Palestinian advocates for justice and human rights by translating, sharing and distributing news, interviews and materials from Palestine.
We work to organize annually for April 17, the Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Political Prisoners, organizing rallies, events and actions and distributing news and alerts about actions around the world marking April 17.
Palestinian prisoners are on the front lines of the Palestinian struggle for liberation on a daily basis. In the jails of occupation, Palestinian prisoners confront the oppressor and the occupier, and put their bodies and lives on the line to continue their people’s struggle to achieve justice and freedom for the land and people of Palestine. Within the prisons, the Palestinian prisoners’ movement engages in political struggle – demanding their rights, securing advances, and serving as leaders to the entire Palestinian movement, inside and outside Palestine.
The Israeli occupation has criminalized all forms of Palestinian existence and Palestinian resistance – from peaceful mass demonstrations to armed struggle to simply refusing to be silent and invisible as a Palestinian. Palestinian prisoners are men and women – and children – from every part of Palestine, from every family. Their absence is keenly felt in the homes, communities, villages, towns, labour, women’s and student organizations from which they were taken by the occupation. They suffer torture, isolation, coercive interrogation, denial of family and lawyers’ visits, on a daily basis. And it is their hunger strikes, their calls to the world, their unity and solidarity, and their continued leadership in the Palestinian movement that must inspire us daily and remind us of our responsibility to take action.
Samidoun also stands in solidarity with Arab and international political prisoners, and, in particular, political prisoners in the United States and Canada targeted for their work with liberation struggles and freedom movements, including Arab and Palestinian movements, Native and Indigenous liberation and sovereignty struggles, Puerto Rican independentistas, Black liberation organizers, Latino and Chicano activists and many others targeted by racism, colonialism, and oppression, and we recognize the fundamental connections between imprisonment, racism, colonialism, and the criminalization of immigrants, refugees and migrants.
Building solidarity with Palestinian prisoners is, indeed, a responsibility. Palestinian prisoners are at the center of the struggle for freedom and justice in Palestine – they represent the imprisonment of a people and a nation. The Palestinian prisoners’ movement has always been at the center of the Palestinian liberation movement and remains so today. Palestinian prisoners stand and struggle on the front lines daily for return and liberation for all of Palestine and all Palestinians. The Canadian and U.S. governments are deeply complicit and directly implicated in the ongoing occupation of Palestine and the crimes of the Israeli state. Rather than standing for human rights, they enable, fund, and support occupation, apartheid, mass imprisonment, land confiscation, dispossession and settlement-building. In response, it is our responsibility to create grassroots accountability, raise awareness, and take action to those Palestinian prisoners who daily struggle for the freedom of their homeland – and the freedom of the oppressed of the world.