Demonstrators in New York City protested on Friday, 2 September in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, calling for their freedom. Samidoun’s weekly protest in support of Palestinian prisoners highlighted the hunger strikes of Mahmoud al-Balboul, Mohammed al-Balboul and Malik al-Qadi, all striking to demand their freedom from administrative detention without charge or trial.
Mahmoud al-Balboul and his brother Mohammed have been on hunger strike since 4 and 7 July, respectively. Both were arrested on 9 June in a violent pre-dawn raid on their home by Israeli occupation forces; they were then ordered to administrative detention without charge or trial. Mahmoud is a student and works with the Palestinian police, and Mohammed is a dentist. Their 15-year-old sister Nuran was imprisoned for three months and their father, Ahmad, a Fateh leader, was assassinated by Israeli occupation forces in 2008. Malik al-Qadi, 20, is a journalism student at Al-Quds University on hunger strike since 16 July against his own administrative detention without charge or trial. Al-Qadi has been imprisoned since 23 May, and was previously imprisoned from December through April without charge or trial by occupation forces before being re-arrested.
All of the hunger strikers’ health conditions have deteriorated markedly in recent days, with Mohammed al-Balboul being rushed to intensive care. All are refusing to take vitamin supplements and are demanding their immediate release from their hospital beds in Assaf Harofeh and Wolfson hospitals.
Participants in the New York demonstration distributed flyers and materials demanding the immediate release of the hunger strikers and their fellow Palestinian prisoners. They are among 750 Palestinians held without charge or trial under administrative detentions, and 7,000 total Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Former hunger striker Bilal Kayed urged widespread support for the hunger strikers in Palestine and internationally.
The protesters also demanded that G4S, the British-Danish security corporation, get out of the business of profiteering from occupation in Palestine. G4S is subject to a global boycott call due to its contracting with the Israeli prison service and other occupation entities to provide control rooms, security systems and equipment for Israeli prisons, checkpoints, police training centers and even the Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing where the siege is enforced. The corporation also contracts for youth incarceration and migrant detention and deportation in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and elsewhere, and is part of major campaigns for prison divestment. The corporation has pledged to sell off these “reputationally damaging” businesses, but the campaign against G4S continues so long as it profits from the imprisonment of Palestinians.
Demonstrators at the New York City protest included a number of Palestinians, who engaged in political discussion regarding the upcoming municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza.
Next week, on 9 September, Samidoun organizers and supporters of Palestinian prisoners will support two events: a rally in support of the Standing Rock Sioux and their struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline in defense of indigenous land and water, at 5 pm at Washington Square Park, and a protest in support of the National Prison Strike in US prisons at 7 pm at 29th St. and 2nd Ave. in Brooklyn at 7 pm.
Photos by Joe Catron