Four activists in the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign to support the Palestinian people’s struggle through the boycott of Israeli products and institutions are facing a trial today, 30 June, in Toulouse, France. Supporters will rally outside the courthouse at 1 pm to demand the dismissal of all charges against the four activists.
The four activists, Jean-Pierre, Bernard, Yamann, and Loïc, are charged with “obstructing the normal exercise of economic activity” for distributing leaflets in public squares in Toulouse in December 2014 and February 2015 urging the boycott of Israeli products. The prosecution was pursued at the request of two pro-Israeli lobby groups (LICRA and its local affiliate) by the Prosecutor of the Republic.
A wide coalition, the Comité de Soutien aux inculpéEs BDS toulousains, has organized French and international solidarity with the accused activists, garnering wide support from unions, civil society organizations, political parties and human rights organizations to demand the dismissal of the charges.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network’s Mohammed Khatib participated in an event in support of the accused four activists in Toulouse on 31 May; the event had been denied a room at the order of Toulouse’s mayor, but in a significant victory for freedom of expression and the right to engage in BDS activism in France, Toulouse’s tribunal ordered the room to be provided for the event, which went on as scheduled, and damages paid to the organizers.
Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Lebanese Communist struggler for Palestine who has been imprisoned in French jails for 32 years, expressed his support for the four activists, as did Leila Khaled, Palestinian resistance icon and member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
They joined figures like Michael Warschawski, Roger Hillel, and Rony Braumann, and organizations like the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic, the Mouvement for Peace, the Union of French Jews for Peace, the Association France-Palestine Solidarite, Coup Pour Coup 31, MRAP, OCML-Voie Proletarienne, the League for Human Rights in Toulouse and many others – including BDS France – to support the four accused activists and demand their acquittal and the dismissal of the charges.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reiterates its complete support for the four accused Toulouse BDS activists, Jean-Pierre, Bernard, Yamann, and Loïc, and demands their immediate acquittal and the dismissal of all charges and accusations against them.
The case against the four activists comes amid a concerted Israeli state effort backed up by the Zionist movement internationally and imperialist and colonialist states like France and the United States to criminalize support for the Palestinian people through anti-BDS laws and prosecutions. These efforts come hand in hand with the criminalization of Palestinian political parties and resistance movements through so-called “anti-terror” legislation and the use of police and security forces to infiltrate, surveil and prosecute Palestinian community leaders.
The attempts in France to criminalize the boycott of Israel also come alongside the 32-year imprisonment of political prisoner, Lebanese Communist struggler Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, and the French support for the Israeli state and the Zionist project, while the state attempts to position itself as a broker of a new “peace process.” France’s own long history of racism and colonialism are reflected in its ongoing support for the Zionist project and its attempt to criminalize the defense of the Palestinian people and the boycott of the occupier.
Such arrests, trials and prosecutions are an attempt to shut down the growing movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people and the growing BDS campaign to boycott Israeli products and institutions through fear, criminalization and oppression. We demand the end of all charges and attempts to prosecute BDS activists in France and around the world. It is time not only to defend the right to boycott and to stand in solidarity movement, but to expand the boycott movement and the Palestine solidarity movement to struggle in support of the Palestinian people’s liberation movement for return and the liberation of Palestine.