Supporters of Palestinian prisoners gathered on Monday, 17 April in Toulouse, France in a demonstration organized by Coup Pour Coup 31, the anti-imperialist collective. Dozens of people gathered to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day and support the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Participants carried signs and distributed materials about Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including imprisoned PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat and student prisoner Kifah Quzmar. Organizers also highlighted the case of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Lebanese Communist struggler for Palestine imprisoned for 32 years in French prisons. The information table collected numerous postcards of support and solidarity to send to Abdallah in Lannemezan prison; these letters of solidarity help to strengthen the morale of prisoners resisting behind bars.
In addition to the case of Abdallah, participants carried signs urging freedom for Bagui Traoré, the brother of Adama Traoré, slain by French police violence. Since that time, Bagui, the only non-police witness to his brother’s death, has been pursued repeatedly for imprisonment and prosecution. These signs were also carried in a protest in Gaza demanding freedom for Palestinian prisoners and expressing solidarity with prisoners of injustice and oppression in French prisons.
On a large sheet of plastic stretched across the square, a graffiti artist created a mural saluting the Palestinian prisoners and demanding their freedom.
The gathering in Toulouse was part of a number of actions across France marking Palestinian Prisoners’ Day and expressing solidarity with approximately 1,500 Palestinian prisoners launching a hunger strike for basic human rights.
In Paris, on Saturday, 15 April, BDS activists in Paris set up a pop-up action outside FNAC, a large French electronics chain, highlighting the complicity of Hewlett-Packard (HP) in the imprisonment, occupation and colonization of Palestinians and the growing international campaign for boycott of the corporation.
Demonstrators set up mock prison fences outside the store, holding signs, banners and distributing materials about the situation of Palestinian prisoners and the role of HP in profiteering from occupation and oppression.
The attention-getting visual action highlighted the struggle of Palestinian prisoners and their experiences of arrest and torture under interrogation and the role of international corporations like HP in supporting and enabling those abuses. Participants distributed large numbers of leaflets highlighting HP complicity.
Later on the same day, a group of organizations, including GUPS Paris, UJFP and the AFPS gathered near Metro Jourdain for a symbolic street renaming, to “Place des Prisonniers Politiques Palestiniens.”
Speakers expressed their support for Palestinian prisoners while the square was hung with posters and photographs of imprisoned Palestinians.
On Sunday, 16 April, a number of organizations gathered at the Place de la Republique for a rally in the busy square marking Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Participants spoke, chanted and displayed Palestinian flags and materials regarding the over 6,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Participants in the demonstration urged the boycott of Israel and the growth of the BDS campaign to internationally isolate Israel, emphasizing the need to confront Israeli occupation and apartheid to struggle for the prisoners’ freedom. Participating organizations included CAPJPO-EuroPalestine and Maison de la Palestine.
EuroPalestine is organizing a program of activities and political pressure to support the prisoners on hunger strike, including organizing to support Defence for Children International-Palestine, which works with Palestinian child prisoners on the ground in Palestine.
On 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, an evening event in Paris highlighted the struggle of Palestinian prisoners and the case of Georges Abdallah. The event was organized as part of a week of action with political prisoners around the world.
The evening began with the launch of an exhibition, “In Between,” in support of the Palestinian political prisoners. Art displayed in the exhibition included the work of Palestinian youth from Dheisheh refugee camp as well as French painter Sania.
The exhibition launch was followed by an evening discussion at the CICP focused on the struggle of Palestinian political prisoners. The event included screenings of short films created by Palestinian youth in Dheisheh camp, as well as speeched by two former Palestinian prisoners, Youssef Habache of CDP-Palestine and Naji Owda, director of the Laylac center in Dheisheh. In addition, the Unified Campaign for the Liberation of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah presented a message from Abdallah in prison in support of Palestinian prisoners.
Also on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day in Marseille, France, organizers with BDS France Marseille, Palestine 13 and UJFP gathered at the Vieux Port in solidarity with over 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike in a morning demonstration.
Participants distributed materials and information about the Palestinian prisoners as well as the campaign to boycott HP for its involvement in profiteering from the imprisonment and oppression of Palestinians. The flyers also contained short passages in English, Spanish and Italian on the announcement of the mass hunger strike.
Additional protests also gathered elsewhere in France to support Palestinian prisoners. In Genevilliers, Rennes and Lyon, France, protesters gathered on 15 April to express their solidarity with the thousands of imprisoned Palestinians behind Israeli bars. Several cities, including Nanterre, hosted screenings of Mai Masri’s film, “3000 Nights,” a feature film about the experience of Palestinian women prisoners. The Communist Students in France collected letters in solidarity with imprisoned Palestinian student Kifah Quzmar and other imprisoned Palestinians, especially after their scheduled event at the university in Nanterre was forbidden by the administration.