Photo: BDS Turkiye

The Solidarity with Prisoners Initiative in Istanbul sent solidarity cards to political captives the world over on 18 March, the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, with activists in Turkey also sending messages to captive Palestinians. “Resistance until the last Palestinian returns home, resistance until the last Palestinian exits prison,” said Ayşe Düzkan, representing BDS Turkey, during an event to mark the day. She noted that the Palestinian cause was an important part of the fight against imperialism everywhere in the world.

Members of the Solidarity with Prisoners Initiative marked 18 March, the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, with a call for freedom for political prisoners around the world, especially Palestinian, Turkish and Kurdish captives.

“While the nationalities, languages, continents and countries of the powers that be may change, their attitude toward those fighting for freedom does not,” said Sevim Kalman, one of the speakers at the event. “Whether in Israel or Greece, France or the United States, Germany or Peru, Colombia, Spain or Turkey, these powers that be take away the freedom of political prisoners and steal their rights. They don’t provide opportunities for people to live their lives in even the most basic human fashion behind bars while also refusing to recognize their political identities.”

During the protest, members of the Solidarity with Prisoners Initiative shouted “Freedom for political prisoners,” “Political prisoners will not be abandoned” and “Long live international solidarity” before heading to the Galatasaray Post Office to send solidarity cards for political prisoners incarcerated in countries around the world, including Ahmad Sa’adat and Georges Ibrahim Abdallah.

Photo: BDS Turkiye

“Hunger strikes in a number of prisons”

Although Turkish authorities have arrested Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş along with thousands of other politicians, journalists and writers, political prisoners in Turkey and Kurdistan have not bowed to the measures against them but have resisted instead, Kalman said.

At the same time, a large number of hunger strikes are currently continuing in prisons, Kalman said.

“We salute Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been on death row in the USA since 1981; Lebanese revolutionary Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, who has been held captive in France since 1984 for not showing penitence; Palestinian prisoners including PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, who has resisted in Zionist Israeli jails for 15 years, and Marwan Barghouti; all anarchist prisoners in the form of Pola Roupa in Greece and Qiyas İbrahimov in Azerbaijan; all Latin American prisoners including Abimael Guzman, who has been held in Peru since 1992; and all European Turkish Workers Confederation (ATİK) administrators and activists in Germany including Müslüm Elma and Banu Büyükavcı,” Kalman said.

Expressing her solidarity with all political prisoners and their families, Kalman also noted that they were marking 18 March, the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, with a desire for a world without borders, classes or prisons.

Photo: BDS Turkiye

Düzkan: Resistance until the last Palestinian returns home

Ayşe Düzkan also spoke at the event on behalf of BDS Turkey, also known as the Initiative to Boycott Israel for Palestine.

“I salute you on behalf of those who resist in Gaza, the children who throw stones in Jerusalem and Ramallah, the international solidarity movement that fights for solidarity with Palestine everywhere in the world, the representatives of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel and the political prisoners of the occupying Israeli state and even the Palestinian Authority,” she said.

“As of January 2017, 6,500 Palestinians are being held as political prisoners. Some 536 of these are in administrative detention – that is, they are being held under arrest without any concrete reason only because they supposedly present a danger to the regime. A number of Palestinian prisoners have managed to overturn their administrative detention by launching hunger strikes, succeeding in securing their own release,” Düzkan said.

Photo: BDS Turkiye

“We stand together with Palestine against imperialism”

Düzkan reviewed the situation for Palestinian political prisoners.

“These [prisoners] include one of the founders of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Marwan Barghouti, and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, who was kidnapped along with four comrades from Palestine’s Jericho prison by Israel with backing from the USA and Britain. Since 2006, he has been held in Israeli prisons. But these are not the only Palestinian prisoners and friends of Palestine. There is also Georges Abdallah, one of the founders of the Lebanese Armed Resistance Group. During the Lebanese civil war, he was arrested in France, where he remains incarcerated. But that is not all: Today, there are attempts to prosecute Rasmea Odeh, one of those who called for Women’s Strike on 8 March and who suffered torture at the hands of Israel…on trumped-up charges,” Düzkan said.

The Palestinian cause is an important part of the fight against imperialism everywhere in the world, she said.

“All of this shows how important it is to stand with Palestine against imperialism and that the Palestinian cause is a priority for those struggling against imperialism everywhere in the world. Because of this, we say, ‘Resistance until the last Palestinian returns home, resistance until the last Palestinian exits prison,’” she said.

The International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners was first launched on 18 March 1923 by International Red Aid under the motto of “equality, fraternity, freedom” on the anniversary of the beginning of the Paris Commune.

Translated from the report at bdsturkiye.org