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From Bobby Sands to Marwan Barghouti

May 25, 2017 at 6:08 pm

A poster depicting the portrait of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti during a protest on 14 April 2015 [Shadi Hatem/Apaimages]

After a 66-day open hunger strike, the Irish fighter Bobby Sands passed away, along with ten of his comrades. They challenged the British prime minister, the “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher, who refused to make any concessions to the prisoners on strike.

When he started his strike, Bobby Sands was only 27-years-old and was at the height of his health and youth. His body was a spark of energy in Britain’s prisons, while the Palestinian prisoners, who have spent more time in prison than Bobby Sands’ total age, are past the age of youth. They are over 40-years-old, their bones have grown fragile, their physical strength weaker, their veins have hardened, and their joints stiffened. Many of them are over 60-years-old, such as my friends Kareem Yunis, Rushdi Abu Mukh, Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat.

Bobby Sands was an MP elected by the Irish people. His people loved him as much as Palestinians love the elected member of the Central Committee Marwan Barghouti; as much as the Triangle loved Karim Yunis and Ibrahim Abu Mukh; as much as the West Bank loved Ahmad Sa’adat and Abbas Al-Sayed; and as much as Gaza loved Hassan Salameh.

Bobby Sands was on an open-ended strike for 66 days without surrendering. He preferred a dignified death to a humiliating life, as death can bring dignity to life and life is humiliating without a dignified death.

Marwan Barghouti also refuses degradation; Waleed Daqqa refuses submission; and Abdullah Barghouti will not give up his pride. They are influenced by the experience of the Irish Republican Army and do not give in to the murderers. They are selling years from their lives and storming the gates of death after 39 days on strike. They are selling whatever days they have left in return for buying the dignity of their countries. They are the ones who chose prison over VIP cards. They chose their cells over travelling to India and China, and preferred to go on a hunger strike over sitting with Donald Trump and kissing his hands, stained with the blood of Arabs and Muslims.

Bobby Sands died in 1981 and humanity preserved his heroic act. Historical documents confirm that 100,000 people lined the route of Sands’ funeral procession. Several angry protests broke out against Britain across the world, and history recorded his name, embroidered in glory.

Meanwhile, history has shown disgust with the name of Margaret Thatcher and no one, other than those officially charged with doing so, attended her funeral, while people danced in the streets and congratulated each other on being rid of the evil woman.

Lawmaker Marwan Barghouti will not die in Israel’s prisons, even if he is insistent on replicating Bobby Sands’s experience. Marwan and his comrades will pluck death from our land. Marwan Barghouti; Maher Yunis; Abbas Al-Sayed; Ahmed Sa’adat; Raed Al-Saadi; Faris Baroud Ghabariya; Jabareen Khalaf; Abu Surour; Jardat; Salhab; Tamimi; Abu Al-Rub; and Sawafta, will all remain alive in the memory of the Palestinian people. The spies and traitors will die; those who resorted to the Israeli intelligence to get rid of Marwan Barghouti and rebels like him.

The Palestinian prisoners are waiting for the support of the people. They need heated confrontations with the settlers on the roads in the West Bank. Sit-ins inside tents do not pressure the Israelis and does not impact the decisions of the Israeli government, and this is what Palestinian officials who prohibit marches towards Israeli barriers are aware of. It is as if they are pushing Marwan Barghouti down Bobby Sands’ road by force. Have they forgotten that their fate will be the same as Margaret Thatcher’s?

First published in Arabic by Felesteen Online, 24 May 2017

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.