“…..’ they have nothing in their imperialist arsenal that can break the spirit of one revolutionary who refuses to be broken”
As you sit and read this brief article, an enormous struggle is has just been fought, and won. Carried out by unarmed, freedom loving people against the massive military might of an imperialist power intent upon squashing the will and desire for freedom of an entire nation. Lacking in the wealth and destructive military power of their oppressors, this freedom loving people have been forced to use the only form of resistance left open to them, their sense of justice, their desire for liberty, their will to be free and their physical being.
Devoid of the backing of international capitalism and reliant on their own integrity and the justness of their cause, men and women of no property have stood up to this Goliath in order to ensure a better future for their children and their grandchildren. Certain of victory and content in the knowledge that their victory will be epitomized by the ‘laughter of their children’, these men and women were prepared to give their lives for this noble ideal, while struggling to live, and so that others will not have to die for the revolution and a brighter future for all.
For many reading this, memories of the super human efforts and the ultimate sacrifice of ten brave Republican volunteers, in 1981 in the H Blocks of Long Kesh, will spring to mind. Faced with the same circumstances as those detailed above, those volunteers unselfishly gave their young lives so that others would not have to. However, this is not merely a reflection on the events in Ireland thirty one years ago, unfortunately it was the description of unfolding events in Palestine only days ago. Men and women facing the destructive power of the Israeli state, intent on criminalizing the justness of the Palestinian cause, had been left with no option but to use their bodies to highlight the corruption and inhumanity of a state forcing them and their people to live as second class citizens. Faced with the constrictions of imprisonment without trial and enduring the tortures of an oppressive state, Palestinian prisoners had been forced to engage in a mass hunger strike to highlight the sectarian and barbarous nature of the illegal and immoral Israeli state.
Just as it was, and is, in Ireland so it is in Palestine that the struggle to be entitled to your national sovereignty and the right to be treated as an equal is not merely a prison struggle. The events which unfolded in Israeli prisons, just like the events unfolding in British prisons, are intrinsically bound up with the desire of an oppressive imperialist power attempting to subdue a risen people intent on striking for their freedom. Imprisonment and attempts at criminalization are tried and trusted techniques of oppressors, as are unjust laws, murder and intimidation and both the Irish people and the Palestinian people can bear testimony to that. But just as the Irish hunger strikers in 1981 defeated the British attempt at criminalization, ulsterization and normalization so have the hunger strikers in Israeli prisons defeated the Zionist supremacists who seek to destroy their nation, steal their country and murder their people.
That the similarities between the Palestinian and Irish struggles are striking should come as no surprise to anyone. Both nations face the inhumane forces of imperialism that seek to subdue their peoples and occupy their lands by stint of their military might, both nations are subjected to barbaric and torturous treatment by those forces, both nations are divided and ghettoised by an elitist clique, both nations have had their wealth stolen by imperialists and their multinational cohorts, both nations have been denied their rights to self-determination and both nations are resolute in their determination to resist such oppression.
Likewise both nations have a burning desire to be free and independent and are ready to take their place as an equal partner in a community of nations working towards the greater good of humanity and not the narrow self-interests of the power hungry and greedy war mongers of imperialism and their fellow travellers in artificially created ruling elites. For all of these reasons and many more, those who took to hunger strike in the Israeli prisons deserve and indeed demand our support and solidarity and us theirs.
We can each learn a great deal from our separate struggles that are united in the correctness and morality of our causes, together we can draw on each others strengths and experiences as we collectively push towards an Irish Republic and a Palestinian homeland within which our people can live in dignity and freedom, working for the prosperity of all of our children and not merely those in positions of privilege.
Victory to the prisoners, victory to the people, victory to the laughing children!