New Yorkers protested in support of Palestinian political prisoners on Friday, 16 June outside the Best Buy electronics store in Union Square. Organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, the protest focused on three recent administrative detention cases – those of Rami Fadayel, Hasan Safadi and Hassan Karajeh.
The rally also demanded that Hewlett Packard companies end their contracts with Israel’s prisons and detention centers, military and security forces, and other occupation infrastructure. Best Buy sells a number of HP products, including laptop computers, printers, ink and printer accessories. HP is subject to a global boycott campaign due to its profiteering from the imprisonment, occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and people. A growing number of churches, labor unions and other organizations are becoming HP-free zones in response.
New York organizers distributed information to passers-by about the situation of Palestinian political prisoners as well as HP’s complicity in Israeli apartheid, urging Best Buy shoppers to choose alternative options to HP products. They engaged in lively discussions and received a great deal of support from people passing by on the street.
Hasan Safadi, 26, the Arabic media coordinator of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, is a Palestinian journalist and human rights defender who has been imprisoned without charge or trial since 1 May 2016 as he returned from an Arab youth conference in Tunisia. After 40 days of interrogation, he was ordered to administrative detention which has now been repeatedly renewed, most recently for an additional six months on 8 June. The call for his release has been joined by Amnesty International, among others.
Rami Fadayel, 37, has been held without charge or trial for 18 months and was ordered on 7 June to another four months of arbitrary imprisonment under administrative detention. Fadayel is well-known in Ramallah as a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian leftist political party. His detention has been repeatedly renewed under the pretext of a “secret file.”
Hassan Karajah, a youth activist with the Stop the Wall campaign who is actively involved in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, has been imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention since 12 July 2016, when he was seized by Israei occupation forces at a military checkpoint west of Ramallah. His administrative detention was renewed for another four months on 7 June.
The three are among nearly 500 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention, out of a total of approximately 6,300 Palestinian political prisoners. Administrative detention orders last from one to six months, but are indefinitely renewable; Palestinians can spend years at a time imprisoned with no charge and no trial on the basis of “secret evidence.” Over 50,000 administrative detention orders have reportedly been issued since 1967; the practice dates from the colonial British mandate over Palestine and was re-imposed by the Israeli occupation.
Israel’s use of administrative detention comes in violation of international law; unlike the detention permitted under international law, it is systematic, prolonged and applied repeatedly over years against large numbers of Palestinians.
New Yorkers are continuing to protest for freedom for Palestinian political prisoners and building the boycott of HP. On Friday, 23 June, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network will join many Palestine organizations for the International Day of Al-Quds demonstration at 4:30 pm at the corner of 42nd St and 7th Avenue in Times Square. Following the demonstration, Samidoun will join NYC Students for Justice in Palestine at its Al-Quds Day Iftar at 7:30 pm at 147 W. 24th Street in Manhattan.
The following week, on 30 June, weekly demonstrations will resume at Best Buy in Union Square at 5:30 pm. On 30 June, the protest will focus on the call for freedom for Nael Barghouthi, the longest-held Palestinian prisoner who has spent 36 years in Israeli jails. Re-arrested in June 2014 after his release in the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange in 2011, his original life sentence was reimposed on the basis of so-called “secret evidence.” All supporters of justice, freedom and liberation for Palestine and the Palestinian people are invited to participate.