New York City protesters gathered on Friday, 19 May outside the Best Buy electronics store in Union Square for a protest in support of hunger-striking Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Organized by Samidoun Palestinian prisoner Solidarity Network, the protest also urged the boycott of Hewlett-Packard (HP) products, including computers, printers and other consumer electronics and supplies. HP is the subject of a global boycott campaign for its multiple contracts with the Israeli occupation military, the prison system that abuses 6500 Palestinian political prisoners and even the Israeli navy as it maintains its siege on Gaza.
Protesters carried signs supporting the hunger strike and distributed leaflets to passers-by with information about Palestinian prisoners, the boycott of HP, and the hunger strike launched by 1500 Palestinian prisoners on 17 April 2017, continuing to this day. The strikers’ demands focus on basic human rights, including an end to the denial of family visits, proper health care and medical treatment, the right to access distance higher education and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.
Palestinian prisoners have spent over a month on hunger strike; even as new strikers and prominent leaders have joined the battle, they have faced sharp repression inside Israeli prisons. Leaders of the strike, including Marwan Barghouthi, Ahmad Sa’adat, Abbas Sayyed, Anas Jaradat, Nael Barghouthi and Karim Younis have been repeatedly transferred and isolated. Frequent repressive raids and mass transfers target strikers while their personal belongings – and on many occasions, even the salt that they use with water to sustain their life and health – have been confiscated.
Participants in the protest had lengthy discussions with passers-by, informing them about the situation of Palestinian prisoners. They also chanted in support of the prisoners’ hunger strike and freedom for the Palestinian people. The protesters discussed the widespread international solidarity with the hunger-striking prisoners and the support of other national liberation movements and political prisoner support movements.
One protester, Anne Pruden, had recently traveled to Belfast, and spoke about the numerous events and actions in support of the prisoners and the solidarity between Irish republican strugglers and the Palestinian liberation movement. She highlighted the frequent demonstrations focusing on the prisoners’ struggle and support for the liberation of Palestine, as well as the murals on Belfast’s famous International Wall that collectively highlight Irish and Palestinian liberation struggles and the heroism of political prisoners. Irish republican political prisoners themselves recently issued a statement of support for the prisoners’ strike, while dozens of events have been organized in the past month across Ireland by a number of Irish organizations.
Samidoun in New York City is planning many more actions and events in support of the prisoners’ hunger strike. It is one of the co-sponsors of the event on Wednesday, 24 May being organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement and Existence is Resistance at 6:30 pm in Times Square in support of the prisoners. Samidoun will also rally and protest once again on Friday, 26 May at 5:30 pm outside the Union Square Best Buy, at 52 E. 14th St. All supporters of justice in Palestine are invited to join the protest to show their solidarity for Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people.