Palestine organizers in New York City met with Sahar Francis, executive director of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and Khaled Quzmar, director of Defence for Children International Palestine, during their visit to New York City on 2 May.
At the gathering, organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network at the request of the visiting delegation, members of Al-Awda NY, Adalah-NY, New York City Students for Justice in Palestine, National Lawyers Guild, NLG at NYU, and the US Palestinian Community Network came together to discuss building support for efforts to win justice for Palestinian prisoners.
The participants discussed their organizations’ efforts, and heard from Francis and Quzmar about international campaign work that is particularly helpful to their organizations’ work in Palestine. In particular, discussions focused on how best to work together to support Palestinian prisoners and support each other’s efforts.
In New York, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network holds weekly protests on Fridays outside the offices of G4S, at 19 W. 44th St, in New York City at 4:00 pm. The next weekly protest will take place on Friday, 6 May, focusing on the ongoing 65-day hunger strike of Sami Janazrah against his administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. G4S, the British-Danish security corporation, provides control rooms, equipment and security systems to Israeli prisons, checkpoints and police training centers. It is the subject of a global boycott call for its involvement in the occupation of Palestine – including a call from Palestinian prisoners – as well as international campaigns due to its involvement in the imprisonment of children and of migrants in the US, UK and elsewhere.
While G4S has stated that it plans to exit these “reputationally damaging” businesses, including selling off its Israeli subsidiary, Palestinian organizers have emphasized the importance of continuing the boycott campaign against G4S because its current practices continue to oppress Palestinians on a daily basis, and remains a critical area for joint struggle with Black, migrant justice and anti-prison movements.
The meeting with Francis and Quzmar was followed by an evening event, “In Our Own Words,” hosted by the NY4Palestine coalition, of which Samidoun is a member. As the New York stop of the North America Nakba Tour, the event featured presentations by Palestinian refugees Mariam Fathalla (Umm Akram) and Amena al-Ashkar.
Fathalla, 86, a survivor of the Nakba 68 years ago who has remained a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon since that time, told her own story of Palestinian dispossession and struggle to return; Al-Ashkar, the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Nakba survivors who has lived her entire life as a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, shared her own experience as well as providing political background and context. The powerful event filled a hall at NYU and energized the room to struggle for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.