Samidoun participated in Fête de l’Humanité, the annual festival of l’Humanite, the newspaper of the French Communist Party, in Paris, France on 9-11 September 2016. The festival draws over 600,000 participants annually to Parc Georges Valbon in La Courneuve.
Numerous Palestine-oriented organizations participated in the festival, including EuroPalestine, BDS France, AFPS and others. The case of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah was particularly prominent in the festival, as a large march wound throughout the festival grounds on Saturday, 10 September at 2 pm, demanding freedom for the Lebanese Arab Communist struggler for Palestine imprisoned in French jails for 32 years. The march called for wide participation and action in the week of action on 15-22 October for Abdallah’s freedom, including the central march to Lannemezan prison, where Abdallah is held. Posters and stickers demanding freedom for Abdallah were posted throughout the festival grounds.
Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and Khaled Barakat, Palestinian leftist writer, joined the mayor of Stains, Azzedine Taibi and Olivia Zemor of EuroPalestine in an event co-hosted by the PCF Stains and CAPJPO-EuroPalestine in the large PCF Stains structure at the festival. Taibi is well-known for his longtime support of Palestinian causes, including defending the posting of a large banner calling for freedom for Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti at the Stains city hall, in response to attempts to force its removal.
Kates provided an overview of the situation of Palestinian prisoners, highlighting Abdallah’s case as part of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement. She particularly focused on the three Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike facing the threat of forced feeding: Mahmoud al-Balboul, on strike since 4 July; Mohammed al-Balboul, on strike since 7 July; and Malik al-Qadi, on strike since 16 July.
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Barakat focused on the role of Palestinian prisoners within the Palestinian resistance and liberation movement, as leaders in the struggle. He emphasized their importance to the liberation struggle and their symbolic and practical meaning for the Palestinian people. He called on all people to participate in the week of action for Georges Ibrahim Abdallah between 15 and 22 October.
Taibi joined the panel and discussed the victory in the battle against attempts to suppress and smear voices for justice in Palestine. Jean-Louis Chalanset, Abdallah’s lawyer, also joined the panel to discuss the importance of Abdallah’s case. Zemor of EuroPalestine translated into French and also discussed the BDS movement and the call to boycott in France, including the resistance to attempts to criminalize BDS activism.
The forum was well-attended as participants filled the Stains pavilion.
On Sunday, 11 September, Kates joined in a panel on international political prisoners at the International Platform Against Isolation, convened in the pavilion of the Popular Front of Turkey at the Festival. Fellow participants included representatives of Republican Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Prisoners Support Group and Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association, the Jericho Movement, the Campaign to Free Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, as well as researcher June Kelly and German and Turkish lawyers and activists for prisoners. The panel discussed the situation and struggles of political prisoners in various countries and movements.
Samidoun’s participation in the Fete de l’Humanite followed its participation in the annual festival of the Portuguese Communist Party; Samidoun will participate next weekend in two festivals, ManiFiesta in Belgium and PCE Fiesta in Madrid, Spain.