On Saturday, 21 October, over 400 people marched in Lannemezan, France, from the train station to the prison where Georges Ibrahim Abdallah is imprisoned, demanding freedom for the Lebanese communist struggler for Palestine as he enters his 34th year in French prison.
The national demonstration was the central event of the international week of action in solidarity with Abdallah, which included events and actions in New York, Berlin, Brussels, The Hague, Paris, Geneva, Bordeaux, Villeneuve and more global cities. Participants chanted as they marched, banging on the gates of the prison, “Long live the Palestinian people’s struggle!” “Georges Abdallah, tes camarades sont la!” (“Georges Abdallah, your comrades are here!”)
Buses brought people to the demonstration from a number of cities, including Toulouse, Bordeaux, Paris and Marseille. As the protesters neared the prison itself, they dragged stones along the prison gates, creating loud noises clear enough to be heard inside the prison itself before tying banners and placards to the large gate surrounding the prison where Abdallah is confined.
Many speakers delivered messages of support to Abdallah and encouragements to continue the struggle. Myriam De Ly of Plate-Forme Charleroi-Palestine and the Belgian call to Free Georges Abdallah spoke, reading out the call that has garnered hundreds of signatures of support.
The anti-imperialist collective Coup Pour Coup 31, part of the Samidoun Network, delivered a speech at the march:
“Once again, we are gathered in front of this prison to demand the release of our comrade Georges Abdallah.
Once again, we pay tribute to the courage, determination and past, present and future struggles of this communist fighter.
Once again, we denounce the French State, an imperialist power, which keeps this anti-imperialist resistance struggle behind bars.
Once again, we salute the Palestinian Resistance, of which Georges Abdallah has been a part for more than 30 years.
But the best tribute we can give him is to continue and intensify the anti-imperialist struggle. This is what we are striving to do as Coup Pour Coup 31 in Toulouse.
We support the struggle of the Palestinian people and their Resistance, by making their history and their struggles known alongside other organizations and collectives, including the BDS campaign. We also support the Palestinian cause by collecting money for the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and for a hospital in Gaza then under the bombs of the Zionist occupier.
We also build links with Palestine, Lebanon and its struggles. We are proud, for example, of helping to strengthen the ties between Georges Abdallah and the Palestinian Resistance, first and foremost the PFLP. Two years ago, in Toulouse and in Gaza, we renamed a street and the Charles de Gaulle square after Georges Abdallah!
This year, PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat sent an open letter to Georges Abdallah following a solidarity photo. And we reiterate his words:
‘From your principled steadfastness through decades in prison, we build our determination, our will and our intellectual conviction; from your head held high, always accelerating our steps to become nearer to the sun of truth and liberation, with you, by you, and with all of the forces of freedom in the world.’
Finally, our collective is a member of the international solidarity network supporting Palestinian prisoners, Samidoun, and this initiative of this International Action Week. Everywhere the demand for the release of Georges Abdallah is expressed: Beirut, Shatila, Baalbek, Birzeit, Gaza, Athens, Saint Pauli, The Hague, Brussels, Zaragoza, Manchester, Dublin, New York City, Berlin, Tunis, Toulouse , Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon, Paris and elsewhere. Everywhere we say that only international solidarity will free him!
Everywhere around the world we cry:
This is our struggle and we are fighting! (Il est de nos luttes, nous sommes de son combat!)
Free Georges Abdallah!”
The participating organizations in Lannemezan included Coup Pour Coup 31, the Unified Campaign to Free Georges Abdallah, the Collective for the Freedom of Georges Abdallah, the trade unions CGT and Solidaires, the EELV (ecological party), the LDH (League for Human Rights, the Communist Party of France (PCF), France Insoumise, EuroPalestine, FUIQP, Secours Rouge Arabe, OCML Voie Proletarienne, Plate-forme Voix des Prisonniers, Association France-Palestine Solidarite (AFPS), ROC-ML, PRCF, PCOF, JCML, Voie Democratique Maroc, Partizan, ATIK, AC Chomage, Parti Communiste Maoiste, International League of Peoples Struggle, Supporters of Ocalan, the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), OTC of Tunisia, the Tunisian Committee in Solidarity with Georges Abdallah, the Belgian Call to Free Georges Abdallah, BDS campaigners, anti-fascists and supporters of Basque prisoners, among others.
Georges Abdallah issued a statement to the demonstration, read out to the event by Suzanne Le Manceau of the Collective for the Liberation of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah:
“Dear comrades, dear friends,
You know that when you gather in these times before these abominable walls and guard towers brings us, here inside, a lot of strength and warms our heart. The atmosphere in its entirety changes inside these ominous places when the echo of your life and activity comes crashing through the nameless flatness of the daily deadness of the prison…so, so close to our cells, the resonance of your presence arouses a great deal of emotion and enthusiasm…
Certainly, comrades, the various solidarity initiatives that you have developed throughout this 33rd year of captivity, not only have effectively unmasked the absurd judicial harassment and the level of state revenge, but also have presented a scathing denial to all those who bet on the exhaustion of your momentum and solidarity.
Of course, Comrades, you also know that it is also thanks to this mobilization and your diverse commitment that the revolutionary strugglers here in the jails of the Republic as well as elsewhere manage to stand up behind these abominable walls despite many years of captivity…
Comrades, the policy of annihilation to which the incarcerated revolutionaries are subject is inevitably doomed to failure insofar as we have solidarity on anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist gorunds. We can never emphasize enough that it is only by acting in solidarity through activity in the current class struggle in all its dimensions that we can convey the most effective support to our prisoners.
At the dawn of this 34th year of captivity, you remain here, comrades, in the field of struggle, and your multiple initiatives provide more comfort and strengthen more than ever my resolve and determination. By my side here brave Basque comrades still resist for so many years. The adjustments of sentences as well as the suspension of sentences for medical reasons are systematically refused to the Basque activists. The case of Comrade Ibon Fernandez is emblematic in this regard. And yet we could have expected something else from the ongoing initiatives of their main organization of struggle.
Comrades, from the Zionist jails to those in Morocco, from isolation cells in Turkey to even darker ones in Greece, the Philippines and elsewhere in Europe and around the world, it is always the same observation: as and when the crisis of the system deepens and becomes more widespread, judicial harassment becomes a basic element of a large panoply of measures available to the pre-revolutionary counter-revolution. Of course this panoply of measures and laws continues to grow in numbers in these times of general crisis, when the measures of the state of emergency are transformed into simple common law.
Comrades, the conditions of detention in Zionist prisons are getting worse by the day despite the agreements reached during the last hunger strike. And as you know, Comrades, to confront it, international solidarity is an indispensible weapon…
Of course the Palestinian popular masses and their revolutionary vanguards can always rely on your mobilization. This is an excellent opportunity to show the criminal Netanyahu and his associates that the Palestinian people are not alone.
It is always necessary to remember that more than 300 children, the flowers and the cubs, languish in the Zionist jails in particularly difficult conditions.
It may be recalled also that the number of administrative detainees continues to grow. and certainly Comrade Salah Hamouri will be the last in this time when the occupier does not have to be accountable to any international authority for its barbarity and arbitrary measures which strike an entire people every day.
May a thousand solidarity initiatives flourish in support of the Palestinian Flowers and Cubs!
What a thousand solidarity initiatives flourish in support of the popular masses in struggle!
May a thousand solidarity initiatives flourish in support of the revolutionaries who resist in Zionist jails and isolation cells in Morocco, Turkey, Greece, the Philippines and elsewhere in the world!
Down with imperialism and its Zionist watchdogs and other Arab reactionaries!
Honor to the martyrs and the popular masses in struggle!
Solidarity, all solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people and its imprisoned resistance fighters!
Solidarity, all the solidarity with the comrades on hunger strike in Moroccan jails!
Honor to the brave PKK fighters!
Capitalism is nothing but barbarism!
Together comrades, and only together, we will win!
To all of you comrades, my warmest revolutionary greetings.
Your friend Georges Abdallah”
All photos via demonstration organizers.