Socialist Democracy Statement
Harsh treatment of Palestinian prisoner and hunger strike blows the lid off state suppression in Ireland
25 September 2020
What had been counted as a major intelligence blow against Irish republicanism has suddenly become a major embarrassment to the British and Irish governments and to a number of parties inside the Northern Executive.
In a major sting and entrapment operation nine Republicans were arrested following meetings that appear to have been organised by a long standing MI5 mole within their ranks. All have been jailed on a variety of charges relating to conspiracy.
Subsequently Palestinian solidarity activist Dr Issam Hijjawi was arrested and charged with support for terrorism based on a claim that he offered to put the groups in touch with governments that the British say are "unfriendly".
All the defendants are housed at Maghaberry gaol, the site of a savage struggle between Republicans and the administration in which the jailers have been using Covid-19 restrictions to hold prisoners in solitary confinement for two weeks on entry to the jail before releasing them to the Republican wing.
After this process was over Dr Hijjawi, who has a number of serious medical conditions, was taken to hospital for tests and on return was again placed in solitary. He immediately went on hunger strike and was followed by Republican prisoners in both northern and southern prisons. These have been supported by solidarity hunger strikes, in Ireland and internationally, and by many statements of support from republican and anti-imperialist groups.
The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association has announced a fast and solidarity encampment outside Maghaberry jail beginning on the 26th September.
The hunger strike lifts a veil on a massive surveillance operation aimed at Republicans and a constant suppression of those imprisoned. Major sacrifices, such as hunger strikes, are required to avoid being utterly crushed.
The British and Irish governments and Sinn Fein are united in denying that there is any Republican opposition. Anyone who contradicts that narrative is by definition a terrorist. There must be no alternative to the corrupt sectarian settlement they have contrived.
The hunger strike and the fact that a Palestinian activist is involved can lift the lid on this silent suppression. Solidarity should not end with the usual suspects. A slew of organisations; Trade Unions, NGOs and community groups say they defend prisoners and they defend Palestinian rights. They must not be allowed to stay in the shadows.