New York City protesters gathered on Monday, 21 August outside the Best Buy in Union Square to campaign for a boycott of Hewlett-Packard (HP) products for the corporation’s complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, including the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners. The protesters demanded freedom for imprisoned Palestinians, focusing on the cases of jailed Palestinian women leaders Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin.
The event was organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. Participants chanted and distributed information about Palestinian prisoners and the role of HP in Israeli militarized technologies, urging a boycott of the company’s electronic and computer products sold in Best Buy as well as highlighting the cases of Jarrar and Saafin. The protest grew later in the event as people joined the demonstration after coming from a protest against the threats of U.S. war on North Korea. Protesters also once again confronted racist slogans and diatribe from a small group of self-identified supporters of the violently racist Jewish Defense League.
Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, prominent advocate for Palestinian political prisoners and leftist and feminist leader, and Saafin, the president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, were both seized by Israeli occupation forces in pre-dawn violent raids of their homes on 2 July. Shortly after they were taken by occupation forces, the two were ordered swiftly to administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Both are well-known international figures known for their leading role in the Palestinian national movement and in women’s organizing and political prisoner defense.
Organizations from around the world have rallied to defend Jarrar and Saafin and demand their freedom, including the Communist Party of Spain, the Landless Workers’ Movement of Brazil, the Portuguese Communist Party, the Hellenic Union of Progressive Lawyers, Coup Pour Coup 31, the Workers’ Party of Belgium and the Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Turkey, among many others. Protests in Belgium, Germany, the United States, Spain and more have urged their immediate release in actions organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Alkarama, UNADIKUM, the Democratic Palestine Committees, Comac and Plate-forme Charleroi-Palestine. Even the South African government has joined in the call to defend Jarrar.
Most recently, several U.S. left parties, including the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization have issued statements urging the immediate release of Jarrar and Saafin. “We urge progressive people everywhere to support the campaign to win freedom for all Palestinians held in Zionist jails, and we condemn the U.S. government for making the Israeli occupation of Palestine possible,” wrote FRSO. “In the face of vicious repression, the heroic resistance of the Palestinian people continues. Free Khalida Jarrar, Khitam Saafin and all Palestinian political prisoners! End all U.S. aid to Israel!” declared PSL.
They join other US-based organizations, including the Workers World Party as well as CODEPINK and a number of student and locally-based Palestine solidarity organizations in demanding freedom for Jarrar and Saafin.
Jarrar and Saafin are among over 500 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial under so-called administrative detention orders. These orders are indefinitely renewable and can hold Palestinians in jail for years at a time without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence.
The protest also focused on the growing international campaign to boycott Hewlett-Packard for the company’s profiteering from Israeli apartheid, colonialism and occupation. HP has contracts with the Israel Prison Service as well as the Israeli military and the system of identity cards and checkpoints that regulates and represses Palestinian movement throughout their occupied homeland. Many churches, labor unions and other organizations are going HP-free to demand the corporation get out of the business of making money from the oppression of the Palestinian people.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network will hold its next protest on Monday, 28 August at 4:30 pm outside the Best Buy on Union Square. Once again, protesters will urge a boycott of HP and an end to corporate profiteering on Palestine’s suffering. They will also focus on the case of Nael Barghouthi, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails. Barghouthi was freed in a prisoner exchange in 2011 but re-arrested in a wave of detentions by Israeli occupation forces that targeted dozens of freed prisoners in 2014. Despite an earlier sentence of 30 months, his original life sentence has now been reimposed. The protest on 28 August will demand his immediate release and that of all of the over 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. All supporters of justice for Palestine are encouraged to join in.