Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network organized an event on Wednesday, 6 January in Brussels, Belgium, addressing the case of Omar Nayef Zayed, former Palestinian prisoner now pursued for extradition from Bulgaria, and the Israeli policy of assassinations directed against Palestinian leaders and activists.
Palestinian leftist writer and activist Khaled Barakat discussed the case of Omar Nayef Zayed, former Palestinian prisoner living in Bulgaria for the past 22 years, who is now being sought for extradition by the Israeli state. After a police raid on his home, he has taken refuge in the Palestinian embassy in Sofia.
Barakat situated the case within the context of attempts to criminalize Palestinian organizing in the United States and Europe, discussing the case of Rasmea Odeh as another instance of a former Palestinian prisoner pursued years later for prosecution, in Odeh’s case, by the U.S. government. He also noted the attempt to use an extradition treaty that explicitly excludes political offenses and pertains to criminal offenses only as a means of propaganda against the Palestinin liberation struggle, stating that Zayed is a freedom fighter and a struggler for the Palestinian people and not a “criminal.”
He urged the broadest participation in campaigns of solidarity with Zayed as well as the broader movement to free Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, viewing the case as one that represents the Palestinian movement and the struggle of all Palestinian prisoners.
Barakat also addressed struggles of the Palestinian movement in Europe over the years, including the imprisonment of Arab struggler for Palestine Georges Ibrahim Abdallah in French prisons for over 30 years, and the assassinations of Palestinian leaders, artists and activists in Europe in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, including Naim Khader, who lived and was assassinated in Brussels; Mahmoud Hamshari; Wael Zuaiter; and a number of other Palestinian representatives and activists.
Dr. Fayez Rashid, Palestinian political analyst, spoke on the topic of Israeli assassinations as a policy over decades, which is systematically incorporated into the political and military systems of the Zionist state. He linked assassination as a policy from the massacres at Palestinian villages such as Deir Yassin and Tantura during the Nakba, noting that they represented a policy of elimination against the Palestinian people.
He urged the strengthening of the popular movement for the boycott of Israel and for boycott, divestment and sanctions, including economic, military, academic and cultural boycott.