Festivals in Belgium and France highlight calls for freedom for Palestinian prisoners

Myriam De Ly of Plate-forme Charleroi-Palestine and Mustafa Awad of Samidoun at ManiFiesta. Photo: Pour La Palestine

A number of actions and events at two festivals held over the past weekend, ManiFiesta in Belgium and Fete de l’Humanite in France, highlighted the cases of Palestinian prisoners struggling for freedom, especially the cases of Salah Hamouri, French-Palestinian lawyer, and Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, imprisoned Lebanese struggler for Palestine held in French jails for the past 33 years.

Photo: Mustafa Awad, Samidoun

At ManiFiesta, organized annually in Ostende, Belgium, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network had a table and tent on 16-17 September with information and posters about Palestinian political prisoners. The stand for Samidoun was located close to those for other Palestine organizations, including the Boycott Israel tent organized by Plate-Forme Charleroi-Palestine and the presence of Palestinian community organizations like Raj’een Dabkeh Troupe.

Photo: Pour La Palestine

On Sunday, 17 September, as Salah Hamouri’s administrative detention order was being confirmed by an Israeli court in Jerusalem, Samidoun came together with Plate-Forme Charleroi-Palestine and many other organizations at ManiFiesta, including ABP, Comac, Intal, M3M, Palestina Solidariteit, PJPO and UJPB to stand together to demand the release of Palestinian political prisoners. Participants focused on the cases of Hamouri, Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar, women’s organization leader Khitam Saafin and national leaders Ahmad Sa’adat and Marwan Barghouthi, along with the struggle to free Georges Ibrahim Abdallah from French prisons.

Events for Palestine at ManiFiesta included panels featuring former UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk as well as performances by Ibdaa, the Palestinian dance troupe from Dheisheh refugee camp in occupied Palestine.

At Fete de l’Humanite, the names of Salah Hamouri and Georges Ibrahim Abdallah were prominent throughout the festival. On Sunday, 17 September, Elsa Lefort, the wife of Hamouri and the spokesperson of his support committee – herself banned from Palestine for 10 years by the Israeli occupation – spoke at the large main stage to the festival about Salah Hamouri’s case. She was joined on stage by a group of people wearing shirts calling for “Liberte pour Salah Hamouri” (“Freedom for Salah Hamouri”) and also holding signs demanding freedom for fellow prisoners, like Georges Ibrahim Abdallah.

She conclude her speech, by saying, “Freedom for Salah Hamouri! Freedom for all Palestinian prisoners! Freedom for Georges Ibrahim Abdallah! Freedom for Palestine!”

Assa Traore and Elsa Lefort. Photo: Justice pour Adama

Lefort participated in many activities and events at the festival, including a panel on joint struggle featuring Assa Traore, the sister of Adama Traore, killed by French police, and Bagui Traore, imprisoned following the protests that erupted following the murder of Adama.

Elsa Lefort at the main stage. Photo: Yanis B, Liberte pour Salah Hamouri

The festival was also home to a number of events and actions focusing on the case of Abdallah, including a collective march through the festival on Saturday afternoon, 16 September. Organized by a number of groups, including the Unified Campaign to Free Georges Abdallah as well as Moroccan organizations working to free political prisoners who had a strong presence at the festival, the march wound through the festival urging freedom for Georges Abdallah and fellow prisoners.

Photos: Pat Bardet

Participants in the march included OCML-VP, the Committee for the freedom of Georges Abdallah, the Moroccan collective to support political prisoners, Le Cri Rouge, Liberez-les (Lille), EuroPalestine, SRA, AFPS-Paris13, NPA and many others.