Eid al-Adha should be a time that for family and friends, yet many thousands of Palestinian children have been forced to pass through the 2014 festival, as every year, without their fathers, brothers, sisters or other family members who remain locked-up within the Occupation’s prisons. As the Eid al-Adha festival drew to a close on Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority held a public party for the some of the children of political prisoners and martyrs in al-Bireh.
In days gone by, such events seemed inclusive in Palestine. The prisoners issue is a national issue which has affected most families in some way. Yet since the passing of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, such events when held in Ramallah seem to be more factional than national. Children at the al-Bireh party waved either Palestinian or Fatah flags, although the yellow colours of Fatah seemed more abundant. Not one factional flag was in evidence at the event except that of the dominant party in the West Bank.
Over recent months the number of Palestinians political prisoners has soared once more. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, itself based in Ramallah, recorded 6,200 political prisoners as of September 1st. Although the end of month statistics for September are not yet published it is expected that figure will have risen once more. The number of prisoners has risen more than 20 percent since the beginning of the year.
The hundreds of children who enjoyed the party in al-Bireh need to be supported in ways that will bring much needed smiles to their faces, of that their is no doubt. No child should be forced grow up without close family members due to political detention. But with so many thousands of children in a similar position, the issue of political prisoners must always remain an inclusive issue.
The issue of Palestinian political prisoners will always remain amongst the core issues of the Palestinian struggle and must not be factionalised. Palestinians who have been involved in whatever way in the struggle, have done so for their rights, and their country. This fact must never be forgotten.