On 10 March, the campaign to free imprisoned French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri achieved a victory over French state repression when the administrative court in Montreuil upheld the right of elected officials in Stains, including Mayor Azzedine Taibi, to post a banner on the city hall calling for the release of Hamouri.
Hamouri, 32, a field researcher for Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, has been imprisoned without charge or trial by Israeli occupation forces since 23 August 2018; despite an official request for his release by France, his administrative detention was renewed by the Israeli occupation.
Dozens of cities and towns throughout France, including Stains, have adopted resolutions demanding Hamouri’s freedom, while over 1,000 elected officials have signed on to the campaign for his immediate release.
Despite French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement that he had requested Hamouri’s release in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his government, through the centrally-appointed official, the prefect of Seine-St-Denis, sued the elected officials of Stains for publicizing the campaign to free Hamouri. Reportedly, a complaint was filed with the prefecture by two pro-Israel pharmacies. The banner had been removed under the prefect’s orders; when it was returned to the location at the front of the city hall, the phrase “as demanded by the president of the Republic” was added.
The tribunal rejected claims that there was “no local interest” and that the banner violated an obligation of “neutrality,” as well as claims that the city council had not properly decided to hang the banner; the council had previously adopted a motion to engage in all necessary efforts to seek Hamouri’s release.
Over 40 police were present outside the tribunal, where dozens of activists had come to support the Stains officials, including Elsa Lefort, Hamouri’s French wife, who has been banned from Palestine until further notice after being denied entry to Palestine while pregnant with her and Salah’s son. Activist groups, including EuroPalestine, also attended the tribunal in support of Taibi and the campaign to free Hamouri.
Roland Weyl, the legendary 98-year-old human rights lawyer and a member of the Bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, argued in favor of the city, dismantling the legal claims of the prefecture. Weyl highlighted the repeated attempts of the prefecture to silence support for Palestine and noted that the campaign for the release of Salah is fundamentally not political in nature but a demand for the implementation of human rights and international law. Hamouri, a French citizen owed support and protection by the French state, has been imprisoned since August 2017 without charge or trial.
Weyl also rejected the use of the term “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” for politically fraudulent purposes. “This wording, which suggests that there are two equal parties that confront each other, is false, and I do not use it: when someone enters your home by breaking in and steals property, we do not talk about conflict, but of a thief and his victim.”
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reiterates our total support for the immediate liberation of Salah Hamouri, a dedicated struggler for the freedom of Palestine and the Palestinian prisoners. The French government’s overwhelming inaction on the case of Salah Hamouri despite the mobilization of thousands of citizens and elected officials indicates their extreme disregard for the rights of Palestinians, including those who are French citizens. The French state’s prosecutions of BDS activists and imprisonment of Lebanese struggler for Palestine Georges Ibrahim Abdallah for over 33 years are echoed in the silence and complicity in the ongoing imprisonment of Salah Hamouri. The French government has a clear responsibility to make it clear that Salah Hamouri must be freed and that his ongoing imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention is absolutely unacceptable. Free Salah Hamouri! Free Palestine!
1. Sign the appeal to support Salah Hamouri at http://libertepoursalah.fr
2. Organize an action, event or activity to demand an end to Salah Hamouri’s detention and his immediate freedom. Raise his case at events and actions for Palestine.
3. Like and share the Facebook page for Salah Hamouri, which will be regularly updated with news and actions to demand Salah’s freedom: https://www.facebook.com/freesalahhamouri/