New York City protesters gathered outside Best Buy on 27 January to demand freedom for Nael Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners and highlight the growing global boycott campaign against HP (Hewlett-Packard) for profiteering from the oppression and imprisonment of Palestinians.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network organized the protest, which highlighted the case of Nael Barghouthi. The 59-year-old Barghouthi is the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli prisons. He is currently imprisoned while a secretive Israeli military commission decides whether to reimpose an earlier life sentence against him; he was freed in 2011 in the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange with over 1,000 fellow prisoners. In 2014, dozens of freed prisoners were rounded up in an attempt to pressure Palestinain resistance organizations; many of their sentences were reimposed on the basis of secret evidence and vague allegations of “connections with prohibited organizations,” including every major Palestinian party. Barghouthi’s sentence was not reimposed; instead, he was ordered to 30 months in prison, which ended on 17 December 2016.
The military prosecution appealed this sentence and is calling for the reimposition of his original sentence; this appeal has been sitting before the secretive commission since 2015. Despite his lawyer’s and family’s appeal for his freedom, he was denied release as the committee considers his case. Signs at the protest highlighted Barghouthi’s case and the arbitrary targeting of former prisoners.
In addition, Samidoun protesters highlighted the continuing threat to indigenous land at Standing Rock by the Dakota Access Pipeline. Following an executive order by U.S. President Donald Trump on 24 January, renewed attention has been drawn to the Standing Rock Sioux’ resistance to the creation of the pipeline that threatens the water at Standing Rock and once again violates indigenous land rights and sovereignty.
Protesters also distributed information calling on Best Buy shoppers to refrain from purchasing HP products. HP maintains a number of contracts with the Israeli state and is the primary contractor maintaining the technical aspects of its checkpoints. It also provides services and equipment to the Israel Prison Service, profiting from the imprisonment of over 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners.
Following the event, Samidoun members attended a letter-writing evening for political prisoners in US jails, organized by Columbia University Apartheid Divest. Samidoun will organize its next protest in New York City on Friday, 3 February at 5:30 PM at the Best Buy in Union Square, focusing on the case of Palestinian human rights defender and BDS leader Salah Khawaja. All are welcome to join and stand for justice for Palestine.