New Yorkers gathered on Friday, 12 May to protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners and their hunger strike for Dignity and Freedom. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network organized a protest outside the Best Buy in Union Square, where participants distributed flyers and information to passers-by.
Protesters urged shoppers at Best Buy to boycott Hewlett-Packard computer products, noting that HP Enterprise engages in multiple contracts with the Israeli occupation, including with the Israel Prison Service. HP profits from the occupation of Palestine, the siege on Gaza, and the imprisonment of Palestinians. There is a growing international campaign to boycott HP and declare institutions HP-free zones until the corporation ends its business with occupation.
The participants carried signs and distributed leaflets about the hunger strike of 1500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Among 6300 total Palestinian prisoners, the hunger strikers represent the prisoners across political lines. They began their strike on 17 April 2017 and have a series of basic human rights demands, including an end to the denial of family visits, access to proper health care and medical treatment, the right to engage in distance higher education and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.
Protesters chanted for freedom and justice for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the immediate implementation of the hunger strikers’ demands. Signs highlighted leaders of the strike, including Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi, PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat and longest-serving Palestinian prisoner Nael Barghouthi.
The protest came one day after an event in New York organized by the Workers World Party, where Fatin Jarara from the US Palestinian Community Network and the NY4Palestine coalition spoke about the hunger strike. She organized 25 participants to collectively take the #SaltWaterChallenge, including Samidoun organizers and Workers World Party members.
They challenged Anakbayan NJ, the progressive organization of youth of the Philippines to also participate in the challenge, in which participants drink salt and water – the only thing consumed by hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners:
These events were followed on Saturday, 13 May by the Nakba Day March for Resistance and Return in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Despite pouring rain, a substantial crowd marched through the streets of Bay Ridge carrying Palestinian flags and signs and chanting for freedom, justice and liberation for Palestine.
Participants in the rally also took the #SaltWaterChallenge to express their solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, as filmed by NYC Students for Justice in Palestine: