Bobby Sands’ spokesman, close friend calls on Israel to immediately release Khader Adnan

People in Dublin in 1981 march in support of H-Block prisoners on day 60 of Bobby Sands’ hunger strike

The Bobby Sands Trust

Bobby Sands died on 5 May 1981, aged 27, after 66 days on hunger strike against British refusal to grant political status to him and other Irish republican prisoners.

Today, as Khader Adnan is on his 65th day of hunger strike, the Secretary of the Bobby Sands Trust, Danny Morrison, called on the Israeli government to immediately release Adnan, who is close to death.

Morrison was himself interned without trial (administratively detained) as a teenager. He was later the Director of Publicity for Sinn Féin and was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly (1982-86). A friend of Bobby Sands he was nominated by Bobby Sands as his spokesperson during the 1981 hunger strike. Today he is a writer and secretary of the Bobby Sands Trust whose members include Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams. Morrison said:

Here in Ireland the British government’s prime minister Margaret Thatcher thought that she could break the will of our struggle by killing our prisoners who were hunger striking for their rights as political prisoners. She was wrong and the violence that the British sewed only reaped a whirlwind of resistance but at a heavy cost in Irish and British lives. The lesson from history is that one must talk and negotiate and recognise the rights of people to be free and to be free  from injustice and persecution.

An earlier British prime minister, Ted Heath, thought that he could also break us through the use of ‘administrative detention’, that is through the use of internment-without-charge-or-trial, which is the pretext used by the Israelis for imprisoning Khader Asnan against whom they have no evidence. People in Derry who marched against internment were massacred on Bloody Sunday and fourteen of them were killed by British paratroopers. Again, that did not break us but only made us more determined to fight for our rights.

It is probable that Israeli rulers are so hardened that they cannot find it within themselves to exercise clemency and resolve this hunger strike. They possibly do not even care what effect their behaviour has on their reputations and how people around the world view Israel’s behaviour with disgust. But they cannot win over the Palestinian people – even should Khader Adnan lose his right to life.

It was a great Irishman, Terence MacSwiney, the Mayor of Cork, who was arrested by the British and went on hunger strike to the death, who said: ‘It is not those who can inflict the most but those who can suffer the most who will conquer in the end’.

The thoughts of Irish republicans throughout Ireland are with Khader Adnan and his family and we hope that he wins his right to freedom.

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Has close personal friend of Sands family (so close as to visit them annually for thirty years and stay in their home), NY representative Peter King said anything?
Or does he only support hunger strikers who believe in killing solely based on religion?

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I don't think the comparison with Bobby Sands is appropriate..
Bobby Sands was charged, tried and convicted of possession of firearms. He was campaigning for political status. Khader has not been charged with any offence.
Like other twitter followers, I don't think IRA campaign is on a par with the Palestinians in administrative detention without trial.

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With respect, I feel you need to educate yourself more on the situation that Bobby Sands and fellow Republican prisoners faced.

Internment was a form of collective punishment. The Irish population in the UK were similarly harrassed as part of the authorities' response to the mainland bombing. The IRA's cause clearly placed them beyond a question of simple criminality. They opposed British rule, by whatever means necessary, and as such, their organization was political and they deserved to be recognized as political detainees.

If you can't see the similarities, then you haven't looked hard enough. The Catholic population was just as badly abused as the Palestinians of today (read about the Great Famine) and for many centuries more than the saga of the Occupied Territories.

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I'm Irish. I was completely opposed to internment but Bobby Sands was already in prison having been through due process. That is why I think he is a poor example. I don't agree that the IRA's campaign was completely political. How is murdering Protestant farmers living near the border with the Republic political or putting explosives in a civilian's car, ordering him to drive up to the army checkpoint?
I supported the SDLP (John Hume, Seamus Mallon), a non-violent ostensibly nationalist party and the Alliance, a non-sectarian party.

The famine was largely as a result of the potato crop failure where only one strain was grown. It was exacerbated by the lack of much assistance by England landlords.

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@ amazed: Thanks for the tip on Peter King (and yes, this is indeed amazing). Wikipedia reports that King called the IRA "the legitimate voice of occupied Ireland", and also that he was involved with NORAID, "an organization that the British, Irish and U.S. governments had accused of financing IRA activities and providing them with weapons".
However, as US representative and Chairman of the House committeee on Homeland Security, King challenged Attorney General Eric Holder, demanding why alleged and "unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial" were not being prosecuted. King's own hearings at the House committee on Homeland Security are to "focus on foreign money coming into American mosques".
One can only wonder whether this news has reached Ireland and what they think over there of King's opposition to President Obama's decision to close Guantanamo Bay, and also to Holder's plans to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in US federal court in New York (King prefers the military tribunal in Gitmo). Clearly the man has no problem whatsoever with internment without trial, in some cases, and one can only guess that these cases will indeed include Khader Adnan.
On the broader issue of whether or not one can compare the struggle of Khader Adnan and that of Bobby Sands or, for that matter, South African and Israeli apartheids, the peoples involved, the Irish and the South Africans are saying quite clearly that, yes, they see the parallels, they recognize the agony. Who is better placed to comment?

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I guess it all depends on whether one considers non-Catholic extremists to be 'real' Irish or to have any real rights

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.