As demonstrators take the streets in numerous Palestinian, Arab and international cities, towns, campuses and refugee camps in support of Palestinian prisoners, the city of Berlin, Germany has been a high point in the international mobilizations supporting the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike of imprisoned Palestinians. The streets and squares of Berlin have been filled with repeated protest actions in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, organized by Palestinian and Palestine solidarity groups in the city.
Berlin, home to one of the largest Palestinian communities in Europe, has been an active site of mobilization in support of the hunger strike that was launched on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, by 1500 Palestinian prisoners. Labeled the Strike for Freedom and Dignity, the hunger strike demands an end to the denial of family visits, appropriate medical care for Palestinian prisoners and an end to solitary confinement and imprisonment without charge or trial. Solidarity network Palästina-Solidarität has provided consistent German-language news and information about developments in the hunger strike, while Palestinian community groups including the Democratic Palestine Committees, Palestinian National Action Committee, Palestinian Association in Germany and others have organized multiple protests.
On Saturday, 29 April, demonstrators gathered in Potsdamer Platz first for an information table and then for a demonstration to support the prisoners, at least the sixth demonstration for Palestinian prisoners since the beginning of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Week of Action on 15 April. Protesters distributed information, held signs, banners and Palestinian flags and displayed large props to dramatize the situation of Palestinian prisoners, including a large “cage” and representations of Handala, the timeless cartoon character representing a Palestinian refugee boy created by Naji al-Ali.
The protest on Saturday followed a human chain that stretched from Wittenbergplatz to Joachimstaler Strasse on Friday evening, 28 April. Dozens of participants stretched through the busy shopping streets, holding candles in vigil of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strikes while displaying Palestinian flags and images of the prisoners and distributing flyers and information about the prisoners’ struggle.
Earlier in the week, on Wednesday, 26 April, many Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activists gathered by the iconic Brandenburger Tor in central Berlin to stand in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Palestinian music played while banners and Palestinian flags waved in support of the Palestinian prisoners’ struggle, with a wide participation by many organizations in the city.
The Wednesday protest followed an action on Saturday, 22 April, also in Potsdamer Platz, where participants carried signs and banners highlighting the Palestinian prisoners’ struggle and key issues like administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – and solitary confinement. Demonstrators held posters of a number of prominent Palestinian prisoners, including PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat and Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi, highlighting their struggles for freedom.
These four actions came following two protests, at Neukolln Rathaus and Hermannplatz, on 15 and 17 April. Marking Palestinian Prisoners’ Day and the Week of Action for Palestinian Prisoners, the Democratic Palstine Committees gathered on 15 April at the Neukolln Rathaus to support Palestinian prisoners, facing down an attempt by pro-apartheid pro-Zionist organizations to shut down the protest. On 17 April, Palestinian youth led a demonstration at Hermannplatz as part of the End Security Coordination Campaign demanding freedom for Palestinian prisoners and an end to PA security coordination with Israel.
All of the demonstrations have been well-attended with over 70 participants in each case, often including families and children. The demonstrations in Berlin have come alongside numerous actions in international cities, including protests in other German cities such as Stuttgart, Koblenz, Bremen, Cologne and Bonn. The next mobilization for Palestinian prisoners in Berlin will take place on 1 May, May Day, when Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activists will participate in the Internationalist Block in the Revolutionary May Day demonstration at 4 pm at Lausitzer Platz in Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood. On 6 May, the Palestinian National Action Committee in Berlin is organizing a day-long hunger strike action in Alexanderplatz in solidarity with the prisoners.