New York activists protested outside the Best Buy electronics store in Union Square on Friday, 31 March to demand freedom for Nael Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners and build the campaign to boycott Hewlett-Packard (HP) products for the company’s involvement in Israeli occupation and apartheid.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network gathered in driving rain to call for the release of longest-held Palestinian prisoner Nael Barghouthi. Barghouthi has served 36 years in Israeli prisons; he was released in 2011 as part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange and was, at the time, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner. Barghouthi returned to his village of Kobar near Ramallah, where he farmed his family land and married his wife Iman Nafie, also a former political prisoner in Israeli jails.
In June 2014, Barghouthi and dozens of Palestinian former prisoners released in the prisoner exchange were swept up in raids by Israeli occupation military forces. Under Israeli military order 1651, the occupation claims the right to reimpose the sentences of prisoners released in an exchange on the basis of so-called “secret evidence.” While dozens of Palestinian prisoners had their former sentences reimposed, Barghouthi was ordered to a further 30 months in Israeli prison.
However, in 2015, the Israeli occupation military prosecution appealed his sentence, demanding instead the reimposition of his original life sentence plus 18 years. He was originally imprisoned on the basis of participating in a commando operation with fellow Fateh fighters that killed one Israeli settler near the illegal West Bank settlement of Halamish. Barghouthi was not released after his 30-month sentence expired, and on 22 February 2017, Barghouthi’s life sentence plus 18 years was reimposed by the Israeli military court. His lawyers and family are continuing the legal struggle for his freedom, but have urged the importance of international action and political support for his release. Samidoun activists in New York are conducting a campaign for the freedom of Nael Barghouthi, including regular protests and actions.
Protesters also highlighted the complicity of Hewlett-Packard (HP) corporations in profiteering from the architecture of Israeli colonialism, apartheid, occupation and oppression. HP provides technology services to Israeli checkpoints and the apartheid wall – including its Basel biometric ID system – as well as providing the database system the Israel Prison Service uses to manage Palestinian prisoners. There is a growing international campaign demanding HP get out of the business of profiteering from Israeli apartheid, and urging boycott of HP products, like printers, ink and computers, until it respects Palestinian human rights.
Participants in Friday’s protest also marked the Aafia Movement’s call for a global day of action commemorating the 14th anniversary of the abduction of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui by U.S. military forces in 2003. Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui, Aafia’s sister, has been leading a global campaign for Siddiqui’s repatriation to Pakistan. The Pakistan-USA Freedom Forum is a participant in this campaign and commemorated the day of action with Samidoun.
Samidoun activists will gather again in protest on Friday, 7 April at 5:30 pm in front of the Best Buy in Union Square, at 52 E. 14th Street, to demand freedom for Palestinian student prisoner Kifah Quzmar. All are welcome and encouraged to attend Friday’s demonstration.