New Yorkers gathered on Monday, 23 October outside the French Consulate in New York City to urge freedom for Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, imprisoned in French jails for 33 years, and urge the French government to take action for Salah Hamouri, French-Palestinian lawyer jailed without charge or trial by the Israeli occupation.
Organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network in New York City, the protest was the second New York event in the international week of action to free Abdallah as he entered his 34th year in French prison. It also highlighted the case of Hamouri, field researcher at Addameer and newly graduated lawyer, imprisoned since August without charge or trial. A former prisoner released in 2011, Hamouri is also separated from his wife and young son; his wife, Elsa, has been banned by the Israeli occupation from entering Palestine for 10 years despite holding a valid visa and a job at the French consulate.
The protesters distributed a number of leaflets and flyers about the cases of Abdallah and Hamouri to passers-by. They were met by a number of police from the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau as well as a State Department representative, who attempted to direct the protesters that they could not stand in front of the consulate, contrary to New York law.
Abdallah was arrested by French police on 24 October 1984, accused of carrying forged documents; however, his detention was extended as French intelligence sought to charge him with involvement in armed actions in Paris by the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction that killed a U.S. military attache and an Israeli occupation diplomat during the Israeli war on and occupation of Lebanon. He has been eligible for release since 1999, and despite several favorable parole decisions, his release has been denied on multiple occasions after intervention by political forces, including former French prime minister Manuel Valls and U.S. former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
His case has received wide support from left-wing and social justice organizations throughout France and around the world, and events were organized in a number of cities as part of the global week of action this year.
Despite Hamouri’s imprisonment without charge or trial, the French government has been slow to push for his release despite an active and growing campaign. Protests and actions have been held in cities across the country for his release and dozens of cities, towns and municipalities have endorsed the call to free Hamouri, alongside prominent political, social and academic figures.
Samidoun in New York will protest next on Monday, 30 October in solidarity with Bilal Diab and Hassan Shokeh, two Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike against their administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. The protest, at 5:30 pm outside the Best Buy in Union Square, will also urge the boycott of HP products for the corporation’s profiteering from contracts with the Israeli occupation military and prison service.
Samidoun is also working with the other organizations in the NY4Palestine coalition to organize a rally against Zionist and British colonialism on the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration on 2 November at 5:30 pm, which will march from the Israeli consulate to the British UN mission. All supporters of justice in Palestine are encouraged to join us for these actions.