The prison branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine joins our comrades in the struggle for liberation around the world in mourning the passing of Robert “Seth” Hayes, a political prisoner for over 45 years behind the bars of U.S. imperialist jails. Released only last year, he lives on as a martyr of the Black Liberation movement and of all of our struggles to confront capitalism, Zionism, imperialism, and reaction. We salute his steadfast commitment to justice and liberation that was never suppressed through years of unjust imprisonment.
Robert “Seth” Hayes struggled in the Black Panther Party, joining the Black Liberation movement after his experiences in the U.S. imperialist military made clear the real enemy suppressing Black people in the United States as well as oppressed and colonized peoples everywhere fighting for their liberation. He was forced to go underground due to state repression and targeted attacks that sought to destroy the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation movement as a whole, in yet another attempt to crush this revolutionary movement that challenged the foundations of U.S. capitalism and imperialism.
We know that the U.S. empire that sustains the killing, apartheid, and colonization of Palestine was built on upon the enslavement and genocide of Black people and settler colonialism and the genocide of Indigenous people. Robert “Seth” Hayes was part of a long history of Black revolutionary struggle that continues to inspire people around the world with its strong internationalist tradition and commitment to liberation. We in Palestine face the brutality of the United States outside its borders, while the Black Liberation movement inside the United States that same colonial, racist power.
The Black Panther Party worked to build a revolutionary infrastructure to fight back against U.S. imperialism and create a new vision of the future. It, along with the entire Black liberation movement, was targeted for massive state repression, including political imprisonment of leaders and strugglers like Robert “Seth” Hayes, Mumia Abu-Jamal, the MOVE 9, Mutulu Shakur and many others. The repression has also been accompanied by criminalization and mass incarceration targeting the Black community and other oppressed communities.
The circumstances to which this brother and comrade were subjected to in prison are deeply reminiscent of our own. We note that, like our comrade George Ibrahim Abdallah jailed in French prisons, he was repeatedly denied parole because he retained his political commitments. He suffered from Hepatitis C and diabetes since 2000 and was repeatedly denied adequate health care. His medical condition deteriorated continuously as a result of this form of medical neglect, an institutionalized practice affecting Palestinian prisoners as well. Despite our varied and differing circumstances, there is a deep connection of struggle that brings us together.
Just as the Black Liberation movement has a long internationalist history – including one of joint struggle with the Palestinian national liberation movement – we recognize and remember our brother and comrade Robert “Seth” Hayes for his commitment to supporting fellow political prisoners struggling for freedom. He fought not only for his own freedom, but for the freedom of his fellow political prisoners and the freedom of his people, within the dungeons of U.S. imperialism, the greatest threat to the Palestinian people and to all peoples around the world. Robert “Seth” Hayes was not only a prisoner but a leader; he remained jailed for 45 years because the power of his commitment and his message struck fear in the hearts of imperialism.
We raise our fists in a revolutionary salute to Robert “Seth” Hayes and affirm once more that revolutionaries never die, but inspire generations to struggle onward toward our collective liberation. We extend our linked arms to the sisters and brothers of the Black Liberation movement who remain inside U.S. prisons today, including Mutulu Shakur and Mumia Abu-Jamal, and rejoice together with you in the freedom of Delbert Africa, Chuck Africa, and the MOVE 9 as we rejoice in the freedom of every Palestinian prisoner. Our Palestinian struggle for justice and liberation is part of one collective fight with the Black liberation movement, and we pledge to continue the struggle until every prisoner is freed and until the systems that imprison us all – racism, capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, an Zionism – are defeated.
Prison Branch Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine 28, February 2020