Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in New York’s Grand Central Station following a blizzard in the city on Friday, 5 January to demand freedom for imprisoned Palestinian teen activist Ahed Tamimi, 16, and her fellow Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and CODEPINK: Women for Peace with the active participation of dozens of New York-based Palestine and social justice organizations, participants carried signs, banners and flags supporting Ahed and fellow Palestinian prisoners.
“This rally showed the broad unity Ahed has inspired here, with every organization in solidarity with Palestine standing together to support her and demand her freedom,” said Joe Catron of Samidoun. “Her detention is a crucial test for all supporters of the Palestinian national and prisoners’ movement. Israel’s attacks on Nabi Saleh, the Tamimi family and Palestinian children are atrocities we must continue to confront.”
Ahed’s case – and that of her family members, including her mother, Nariman, currently imprisoned alongside her daughter, and her cousin, Nour, recently released but still facing charges by an occupation military court – has attracted worldwide attention. Ahed and her family are leaders in the anti-colonial indigenous resistance and land defense movement in Nabi Saleh, their village of approximately 600 Palestinians that has been subject to land theft, invasions and extensive violence at the hands of Israeli occupation forces and settlers. Even the village’s spring was seized by the illegal settlement of Halamish. While both Ahed and her mother are held in HaSharon prison, they are isolated from one another and Ahed’s cell has reportedly been freezing in winter temperatures.
Ahed has been charged with 12 charges in an Israeli occupation military court after she slapped an occupation soldier – following the soldier slapping her first – who was on her family’s land and seeking to shoot down at protesters in the village below. The soldier was part of the same unit of occupation forces that had, shortly before, shot her cousin Mohammed Tamimi, 15, in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet, causing serious damage and leaving him in a coma for days.
Ahed is not alone; she is one of over 300 Palestinian child prisoners in Israeli jails. Each year, approximately 700 Palestinian children are brought before Israeli military courts; Palestinian children face torture and abuse under interrogation, violations of their rights as children and political imprisonment in military prisons. In the past two years, dozens of Palestinian children have been imprisoned without charge or trial under so-called administrative detention.
Samidoun organizers in New York worked with CODEPINK and other organizations to build a coalition and outreach to other organizations, especially following the successful NY4Palestine rally on 22 December in support of Ahed and fellow Palestinian prisoners. The rally was joined by an exceptionally broad number of groups in New York City with 32 endorsing groups, including Al-Awda NY, NYC Students for Justice in Palestine, Labor for Palestine, Decolonize this Place, Jewish Voice for Peace, the National Lawyers Guild, International Action Center, ANSWER, BAYAN USA, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Black4Palestine and many more.
“Israel’s anger at Ahed, their hell bent intention to destroy her, comes from her refusal to submit to their occupation,” said CODEPINK National Director Ariel Gold. “Rather than lowering her eyes in compliance, Ahed stands up to the army, unafraid, and demands her rights. She is accused of slapping a soldier. But Israel, not Ahed, is the real criminal.”
Participants noted the strong, positive reception they received throughout the rally, which was emceed powerfully by Nerdeen Kiswani of NYC Students for Justice in Palestine. Participants chanted for freedom for Ahed and for all of Palestine, and passers-by noted their familiarity with Ahed’s case, supporting her demands for freedom and expressing their solidarity with Palestinians, especially around the issues of the arrest and imprisonment of children and U.S. President Donald Trump‘s declaration purporting to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The chants and the speeches reverberated around the busy station through a megaphone throughout the protest.
“Ahed is only 16 years old and she is sitting in jail,” said Kiswani from NYCSJP. “Palestinians have not only the right to resist their oppression, but the obligation. Ahed is one of many children being detained and tortured in Israel’s military courts. It’s an apartheid system. We are out here today and we will be out here in solidarity as long as Israel continues to imprison Ahed and her mother.”
There were a few isolated counter-protesters from the extreme-right, racist Jewish Defense League, which held Israeli flags and a sign calling to “Jail Ahed.” Their miniscule presence did nothing to detract from the power of the mobilization throughout the station. At one point in the rally, participants collectively read out facts about Ahed, the Tamimis, Nabi Saleh and the escalating attacks on Palestinians by the Israeli occupation following Trump’s Jerusalem delegation from a series of placards. The concept was inspired by NYC Shut it Down, a Black Lives Matter organization that protests every Monday evening in Grand Central and other locations against police killings. NYC Shut it Down activists worked together with John and Lydia of Samidoun to organize this part of the action.
Joe Catron, Samidoun’s U.S. Coordinator, spoke at the rally about Ahed’s 17th birthday, forthcoming on 31 January and urging mobilizations around this day to demand her freedom and that of fellow Palestinian prisoners. Announcements will be forthcoming from multiple organizations to build for these events and actions.
On Monday, 8 January, Samidoun activists will not be holding their regular protest because they will be participating in two events to honor Erica Garner, the activist, organizer and daughter of Eric Garner, killed by New York City police, who passed away recently from a heart attack. The public memorial service for Erica Garner will take place at 5:00 pm on 8 January at First Corinthian Baptist Church, which will be followed by a People’s Monday action for Erica Garner by Shut it Down NYC beginning at 116th and Lenox.
The New York protest was one of a number of protests taking place over the weekend and in the coming days in solidarity with Ahed Tamimi and the Palestinian people, including actions in Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, London, Los Angeles, Dallas, Bratislava, Saint-Etienne, Sydney, Dublin, Madrid, Toulouse, Washington, DC, Johannesburg, Arlington and elsewhere.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network denounces the ongoing imprisonment of Ahed and Nariman Tamimi, among over 500 Palestinians arrested by Israeli occupation forces following U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration of recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Issa Qaraqe of the Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Commission stated that approximately half of those detained, like Ahed, Abdul-Khalik Burnat and Fawzi al-Junaidi, are children. There are hundreds of Palestinian children jailed by Israel and frequently subject to beatings, abuse, and interrogations without parents or lawyers present in violation of the law. We urge people of conscience around the world to take action to demand freedom for Ahed and her fellow detained and jailed Palestinian children in occupation detention centers, interrogation centers and prisons – and for the Tamimi women and all detained and imprisoned Palestinians.
The resistance of the Palestinian people has never been quelled by arrests or repression, and it must be clear that we, around the world, stand alongside the Palestinian people as they defend Jerusalem and their entire land and people under attack. This includes standing with detained and jailed Palestinian prisoners in their struggle for liberation for themselves, their people, and their occupied homeland.
- Join the Twitterstorm! Every day, a Twitterstorm is being organized with a new hashtag released at the moment the campaign begins to raise awareness and urge action to free Ahed and Nariman Tamimi. You can join in and follow the campaign at the Free the Tamimi Women facebook page and @YASHebron on Twitter. The twitterstorms are currently scheduled for 10 AM Pacific, 1 PM Eastern, 6 PM UK, 7 PM in Europe, 8 PM in Palestine – updates and hashtags are posted regularly on Facebook and Twitter.
- Organize a protest for Ahed or join one of the protests being organized in cities like Washington, Bratislava, Vienna, Sydney, Dublin and elsewhere and distribute this post and other news about Ahed and the Palestinian prisoners. Get others involved in the struggle for Palestinian freedom! Build the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and complicit corporations like HP and G4S.
- For supporters in the US: Call your member of the House of Representatives to support H.R. 4391, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act. Tell them specifically about Ahed’s arrest, and urge them to act for her release. Tell them to pressure Israel to free Ahed and other detained Palestinian kids. Call the House switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your Representative’s office. CODEPINK has an action to highlight this case specifically.
- Call your nearest Israeli embassy and let them know that you know about the detention of Ahed Tamimi in Nabi Saleh and other Palestinian child prisoners. Demand Ahed, her mother Nariman, and the other detained children be immediately released. Contact infomation here: https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/israel
- Sign the petition. Over 150,000 people have already signed on to demand freedom for Ahed: https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/free_ahed/?feiNukb
- Write to Ahed and Nariman. While Zionist jailers frequently censor Palestinian prisoners’ mail, these letters can help bolster morale and even send a message to the jailers and censors themselves. Write to Ahed Tamimi or Nariman Tamimi (choose one and address your letter to one only) at: HaSharon prison
Ben Yehuda, P.O. Box 7
40 330 Israel