New Yorkers kicked off the international week of action in solidarity with Georges Ibrahim Abdallah on Friday, 14 October with a protest outside the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations.
Demonstrators rallied to demand the French government release Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a Lebanese activist imprisoned since 1984, before members of the New York Police Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau blocked them from marching into the building. Participants in the protest, organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, continued to demonstrate outside, distributing literature about Abdallah’s case to passers-by, including diplomats representing several countries.
Abdallah, 65, is a longtime Lebanese Communist and struggler for Palestine. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987, accused of participating in several Paris actions of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction – which existed in order to repel US and Israeli invasions of Lebanon – in which two US and Israeli officials were killed. He had been involved in the Palestinian struggle from his teen years in Lebanon. He was originally only arrested for having a false passport; his lawyer was later revealed to have been in the employ of French intelligence.
He has been eligible for release since 1999, but his parole bids have been repeatedly denied. Even when his release to Lebanon was approved by the French judiciary, French interior minister (today the prime minister) Manuel Valls refused to sign the documents for his deportation, keeping him imprisoned. US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also intervened with the French state in order to prevent the release of Abdallah. Valls is also well-known for his anti-Palestinian positions, including advocacy for the prosecution of BDS activists in France.
As he enters his 33rd year in French prison, activists around the world and in Palestine are demanding his release. He joined the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed this summer from Lannemezan, where a mass march will convene on 22 October to demand his freedom.
Events are planned throughout the week in Paris, Toulouse, Marseille, Bordeaux, Grenay, Lyon, Berlin, Hamburg, Athens, New York City, Milan and elsewhere.
In New York, Samidoun will be organizing two events next Friday, 21 October, as part of the week of action for Georges Ibrahim Abdallah and ongoing actions in support of Palestinian political prisoners and the Palestinian struggle. At 4:00 pm, demonstrators will gather at the Consulate General of France at 934 5th Ave to demand Abdallah’s release. Following the protest, Samidoun is hosting a celebration and gathering to mark one year of its weekly New York City protests for freedom for Palestinian prisoners, at 6:30 pm at the Solidarity Center, 147 W. 24th Street. New participants are welcome to join in and attend.
Photos by Joe Catron. Final photo by Anne Pruden. Video by Sara Flounders.