May 5th, 2012: University of Toronto undergraduate student Farah Saeed takes on day 6 of hunger strike in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners
From Farah Saeed’s work
1) What inspired you to strike?
What inspired me the most and still does is the struggle of Palestinians on a daily basis and the resistance in which they practice against the oppressive Israeli occupation. The military detention without charges of Palestinians has played a huge role recently in the ways to which Palestinians resist the occupation. People such as Hanaa Shalabi, Bilal Diab and many more have led me to start my own individual hunger strike a way in which I could express my solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.
2) How does it feel to be on a hunger strike for 5 days now?
Being in an open ended hunger strike is tiring but at the same time it’s a whole different experience than just protesting or peacefully marching. It was very difficult once I started and not so focused on why I wanted to start one but getting to the second and third day made me realize how far Palestinians go for their rights and freedom. It’s such an exhausting experience for someone like me who never really experienced hunger living in a first world country. Now that I am about to enter my sixth day, I do feel quite drained but I am still very motivated to keep going in solidarity with my people who’s rights are continuously being abused.
3) If you could send a message to the prisoners, what would it be?
If I could send a message to the Palestinian prisoners and I wish I could, I would say: people from all over the world are supporting you and that our cause has never gone in vain nor did our rights and freedoms which have always been ignored and violated by the Israeli occupation. What you’re doing is something that will be recorded in our history for many years to come. As a Palestinian Canadian, I am honored to be part of such people with such strong will to fight for their rights. You are the heroes of Palestine and hope of it, like my father would say.
4) How has family and friends responded to your decision to strike?
My family has taken a negative stance on this at first and suggested endless alternative ways to stand in solidarity, I know they are worried but at the same time proud of what I am doing and the cause I am doing it for. Most of my friends didn’t know about my hunger strike until my third day in, but the ones whom helped me and supported in my taking this decision have been to this day supporting me and standing by me. I am also proud to say I have inspired a couple of them to start their own hunger strike or to join others on a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners.
5) Did you decide to strike for the sake of empathizing for the prisoners on a personal level or was this an attempt to raise awareness of the issue publicly?
I started a hunger strike mainly to support the struggle behind the bars of Israeli jails, nonetheless, I am doing this as a personal experience to understand what they go through. At first, I did not want to do it to raise awareness but now that I am on my fifth day many have told me that talking about what I am doing will inspired and make people aware of how serious this situation is and it cannot be ignored any longer.
6) How do you feel about the media coverage of the Palestinian prisoners on strike?
The media coverage on this issue in North America specifically has been very shameful, I have not yet read nor heard about the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners on Canadian news. However, I am not surprised that Canadian new agencies are taking such a shameful decision to ignore this issue because many other humanitarian issues in Palestine have been ignored in the past. Today, more than 2000 prisoners are on hunger strike, if this is not worthy of coverage then what is?
7) Anything else you would like to share?
I would finally like to share something with every human being who stands for oppressed people who face injustice daily that this issue is very serious and raising awareness is critical in such situation. Educate yourself and raise awareness about it in any peaceful way possible. Our voices need to be heard and people need to know about this oppressive, inhumane occupation.
- Palestinian prisoners in mass hunger strike (aljazeera.com)