Protesters in New York City gathered outside the offices of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise in Manhattan for the weekly Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network protest for Palestinian prisoners’ freedom on Monday, 18 September. Carrying signs and Palestinian flags, they demanded HP end its contracts with the Israeli occupation, including with the Israel prison service and Israeli military that impose apartheid, occupation and settler colonialism on the Palestinian people.
The weekly protest focused on the case of Issa Amro, an activist in al-Khalil with Youth Against Settlements who is facing 18 charges before an Israeli military court. An international campaign has been organized to defend Amro against the charges, all of which relate to popular, public protests against settlements in al-Khalil. Amro was also recently arrested by the Palestinian Authority and charged with violating the “Electronic Crimes Act,” recently instituted by decree by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
This new law has been used to detain and charge a series of journalists and activists for expressing their opinions on social media. Many Palestinian organizations and political parties are demanding the complete cancellation of the law – a call joined by Samidoun – noting the danger that it poses to freedom of expression for Palestinians, especially at a time when Israeli occupation forces regularly attack, detain and imprison Palestinians for their political expressions on social media and as the Palestinian Authority continues its “security coordination” with the Israeli occupation.
The charges against Amro come as part of ongoing repression against activists in organizers in al-Khalil, including the case of the “Al-Khalil 4” earlier in the year. Palestinians in al-Khalil face daily settler violence, attacks by occupation forces and the shuttering of Palestinian businesses and homes to create an occupation zones for 800 illegal settlers occupying the heart of the Palestinian city of 200,000. Most recently, the Israeli state issued a military order on 31 August to establish a “new municipal services administration” for the 800 settlers in al-Khalil, yet another attack on Palestinian existence and life in the city, even though even the Oslo accords state that the entire city is under Palestinian administration.
As the demonstrators protested outside HP, they garnered support both from drivers passing by on the West Side Highway and from a number of people walking by on the street. Participants distributed information about Palestinian prisoners as well as about the involvement of Hewlett-Packard in providing IT infrastructure and resources for the Israel Prison Service, the Israeli checkpoint and ID card system that maintains apartheid and the Israeli occupation military, demanding the company cancel its contracts and urging boycott of HP consumer and business products in protest. There is a growing international campaign to boycott HP in protest of these contracts.
Following the demonstration, protesters participated in several events taking place in New York City. Samidoun was one of a number of endorsers of the North America Nakba Tour‘s stop at New York University, where Palestinian refugees from Lebanon spoke about their experiences. Khawla Hammad (Umm Mousa), a Nakba survivor, and Amena el-Ashkar spoke about the situation for Palestinians in Lebanon’s refugee camps and the struggle for the right of return. The North America Nakba Tour kicked off on 15 September with a series of events in New York and New Jersey, including a dialogue with the Ramapough Lenape Nation on joint indigenous struggle as well as events in Clifton, NJ and at Hunter College and NYU. The Tour will continue through December with stops up and down the East Coast and Midwest.
Amena of the Nakba Tour had actually spotted the Samidoun protesters as they drove to set up the NYU event, taking photos through their car windows and honking in solidarity as they passed.
Lydia of Samidoun also participated in a protest organized by BAYAN as part of the National Week of Action in Solidarity with the Philippines. The demonstration at the US Army Recruiting Station in Times Square demanded an end to U.S. political and military intervention in the Philippines.
“Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network protests arbitrary detention of activists and politicians in Palestine. We stand in solidarity with the Filipino struggle because the United States is an imperialist power involved in funding the zionist entity as well as the Duterte regime,” she said, highlighting as well the role of Israeli weapons sales and “security” advice in the Philippines and internationally.