Protesters in New York City gathered to support Palestinian prisoners and demand the freedom of imprisoned lawyer Muhammad Allan on his 30th day of hunger strike in Israeli prison on Friday, 7 July. Organized by the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, the protest took place outside the Best Buy electronics store in Manhattan’s Union Square.
Protesters at Best Buy also distributed information to customers and passers-by about the growing campaign to boycott Hewlett-Packard (HP) products, including laptops, tablets, printers and printing supplies. HP Enterprise holds a number of contracts to provide the IT infrastructure of the Israeli occupation, including services for Israeli checkpoints, ID cards, the Israeli navy maintaining the siege of Gaza and even the Israel Prison Service. People and organizations around the world, including trade unions in England, Ireland and elsewhere, have declared themselves to be HP-free zones.
The campaigners focused on the case of imprisoned Palestinian lawyer Muhammad Allan, who entered his 30th day of hunger strike as the protesters gathered. Allan, 33, was seized on 8 June by Israeli occupation forces in his home in Einabus near Nablus in a pre-dawn raid by occupation forces. He had earlier been released from Israeli prison in November 2015 following a 66-day hunger strike against his imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention.
Since his release, Allan has been actively involved in campaigns of support for fellow Palestinian prisoners, including administrative detainees and other prisoners on hunger strike for justice and freedom. After his arrest, he started his hunger strike immediately and has been transferred repeatedly from prison to prison and held in isolation in an attempt to break his strike.
On Wednesday, Allan was accused in an Israeli military court of “incitement” for posting on social media and attending demonstrations in support of Palestinian prisoners. He emphasized that he is continuing his hunger strike and that he rejects any attempt to transfer him to administrative detention without charge or trial.
Currently, approximately 500 of the 6,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are held without charge or trial under administrative detention. Administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable and issued on the basis of “secret evidence.” Palestinians have spent years at a time imprisoned without charge or trial under repeatedly renewed administrative detention orders.
As Samidoun members protested in New York City, chanting for freedom for Palestinian prisoners, other Samidoun activists traveled to Philadelphia to participate in a demonstration for justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the office of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.
The demonstration demanded the DA’s office turn over documents connected to the involvement of Ron Castille in the conviction of Abu-Jamal; despite his work for the prosecution, Castille, who is now a judge, has refused to recuse himself from appeals in the case.
New York Samidoun activists including Steve Millies, who designs Samidoun protest signs, Christian Cobb and Taryn Fivek participated in the demonstration for Abu-Jamal, demanding the DA’s office follow through with its obligations to turn over the documents in question.
Samidoun organizes weekly protests in New York City on Fridays at 5:30 pm outside the Best Buy in Union Square to demand freedom for Palestinian prisoners and support the boycott of HP products until it ends its contracts with Israeli occupation; the next scheduled protest will take place on Friday, 14 July. All supporters of justice for Palestine are welcome to join.