Sinn Féin representatives to visit Palestine in support of Palestinian prisoners.
Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast, former political prisoner Fra Mc Cann, and Limerick Sinn Féin Seanadóir, Paul Gavan will be travelling to Palestine from the 14 till 18 August to meet with members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Palestinian prisoners, their families and legal representatives.
The Sinn Féin representatives will also visit Bilal Kayed, who commenced a hunger strike on 15 June in protest against being held without charges under what the Israeli authorities term 'Administrative Detention'.
They are travelling at the request of Palestinian support group, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.The trip is part of 'an emergency delegation of international parliamentarians' to highlight the injustice of the plight of Palestinian prisoners and in particular the hunger strike of Bilal Kayed. They will also demand the end of the Israeli government policy of Administrative Detention.
Also travelling on the international Delegation are Zoi Konstantinopoulou, renowned human rights lawyer and former head of the Greek parliament, and Ogmundur Jonasson, member of parliament and former Minister of the Interior of Iceland.
Speaking ahead of the trip Sinn Féin MLA, Fra McCann said:
'Sinn Féin has long established links with the Palestinian people in their quest to achieve freedom and statehood.
“We have used our influence to highlight the many injustices inflicted on our Palestinian brothers and sisters by the Israeli government.
"Palestinian prisoner, and hunger striker, Bilal Kayed, should be released immediately.
“There are serious human rights concerns regarding the treatment of Bilal Kayed who is shackled hand to foot in his hospital bed. Bilal's health is deteriorating rapidly.
“It is our hope to visit Bilal in hospital and meet with his family to express our support for their legitimate campaign. The international community has a major role to play in putting pressure on the Israeli administration to end this hunger strike.
“Israeli oppression, such as the policy of Administrative Detention, will not resolve the problems facing the Palestinian and Israeli people.
“There is no military solution to political problems. Dialogue has to be a central tenet of any attempt to make peace and achieve justice. It is the key to conflict resolution.
“Refusing to engage in dialogue, demonising opponents, treating them as non-citizens, stripping them of their rights and entitlements, of their self-esteem and integrity as human beings, engaging in censorship and vilification – all of this makes war easier and peace harder.
“We view this engagement as part of our on-going solidarity with our Palestinian comrades in their struggle for freedom.”