New Yorkers gathered on Monday, 16 October for a protest marking the launch of the international Week of Action to Free Georges Ibrahim Abdallah outside the French mission to the United Nations. Organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, the demonstrators also highlighted the case of French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri, detained by the Israeli occupation without charge or trial by Israel since 23 August.
The protest comes as part of an international week of action marking the anniversary of Abdallah’s arrest by French police in 1984 and the beginning of his 34th year in French prisons, despite being eligible for release since 1999. The Lebanese Communist struggler for Palestine’s trial was marked by severe irregularities, including the involvement of one of his lawyers from an earlier case spying on him for French intelligence.
Abdallah was originally arrested in 1984 for allegedly carrying false documents; his detention was repeatedly extended as French intelligence searched for information to charge him with involvement in armed actions that killed a U.S. diplomat and an Israeli representative in Paris. Today, he remains behind bars despite several previous favorable parole decisions overruled by political forces, and his case has received wide support from an array of justice and left organizations throughout France and internationally.
The New York protesters distributed information about Abdallah’s case and carried signs demanding the French state release Abdallah. As U.S. government pressure has been a signifcant issue in the ongoing imprisonment of Abdallah, protesting in the U.S. is particularly relevant to his case.
Samidoun protesters this week were rejoined by Christian Cobb, recently returned from an international solidarity and work delegation to Cuba honoring the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Che Guevara.
Protesters also focused on another case involving France: that of French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri, a field researcher for Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. Hamouri is a former Palestinian prisoner who spent six years in Israeli prison; now, he is subject to a six-month administrative detention order without charge or trial.
A growing campaign across France, led by his French wife, Elsa Lefort, who was detained for three days and banned from Palestine for 10 years by the Israeli state when she traveled home with her husband after a visit with her family in France, is demanding Hamouri’s release. A large number of elected officials, municipalities and organizations have joined the campaign for his freedom.
However, to date, the French state has remained largely silent on Hamouri’s case, providing only standard consular visits and failing to place any significant pressure on Israel to release their detained citizen arbitrarily detained without charge or trial. The New York protesters also urged the French government to take action in Hamouri’s case, distributing literature and carrying signs highlighting his imprisonment.
Samidoun activists in New York will continue their participation in the Week of Action next week; the next protest will take place at the French Consulate in New York at 934 5th Avenue at 5 pm on Monday, 23 October. Events are taking place as part of the days of action, including a large protest at Lannemezan prison on 21 October, where Abdallah is jailed; other protests and events will take place in Athens, Bordeaux, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Marseille, Villeneuve, Den Haag, Tunis, Beirut, and in various locations in Palestine.
The participants are also planning to join a number of other upcoming events in New York in the coming days, including a press conference organized by the National Lawyers Guild International Committee on Wednesday, 18 October against U.S. threats of war in the Korean peninsula. Samidoun is also endorsing an event organized on 27 October by Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, also mobilizing against threats of U.S. bombing in Korea and in support of the Korean people.