Third Day Hunger Strike - Students Reply to Solidarity Messages

Birzeit university students entered their third day of hunger strike today as messages of support flowed in from around the world. Despite the closure of the university for one day due to the anniversary of the Paletinian Intifada, many students visited the hunger strikers to express their support.

Birzeit students declared an open-ended hunger strike 3 days ago in solidarity with the over-2000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who are hunger striking for their freedom. Around 30 students remain on the hunger strike as well as students who have undertaken a partial hunger strike alongside them.

Today, as news arrived in the tents that another Palestinian had been shot dead in Ramallah, the hunger strikers wrote a response to the hundreds of people who have sent in e-mails of support. We reprint their letter below:

From the tents to those all over the world:

Dear friends, supporters and those who struggle for humanity,

We want to express to all of you how much it has meant to us to receive your messages of support and to feel so close to us in a struggle that is so remote. All of us in the hunger strike feel waves of energy surge through our weakened bodies when we see the warmth and love through you responses.

Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, once said in the name of Palestinians, "We are not guests in this world but we are partners." Thank you to all those who believe the Palestinian people are partners in human heritage, future and have the right to share dignity, freedom and self determination. Allow us to say that those who can’t understand this are victims of their own insecuirty and are destined to dwell in feelings of threat, hatred and as one of our professors once said, "Only those who feel the lack of freedom in their spirits, feels the need to enslave others."

To return to Mahmoud Darwish,
"We also have our cry when we fall from the edge of the earth.
But we never store our voice in old jars of pottery
We never hang the elk on our walls
We never claim sovereignty over dust
And our dreams don’t covet the vineyards of the others
Or break the rules of others."

One more thing we want to say, which we couldn’t help feel while reading your letters of support and your e-mails. Many of you spoke to us in the name of Allah and God. Some of us in the tents are believers in God, some are not, but what brings us together is the cause we are advocating and the suffering we have all experienced. We feel as one today.

So thank you and thank you once again for your messages of support - they have brought light to our bodies and spirits."

Birzeit University hunger strikers 9th December 1998