Protests in Lebanon and Tunis demanded freedom for imprisoned Arab Communist struggler for Palestine, Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, on 14 July, coinciding with Bastille Day, the French national holiday, and the appearance of the French national football team in the World Cup final. Abdallah has been imprisoned in French jails for nearly 34 years, despite being eligible for parole since 1999.
Khaled Barakat, Palestinian writer and the coordinator of the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat, issued a video calling for action by the Lebanese government and political leaders to free their citizen from French prisons:
Participants from around the world taking place in an international youth forum in Latin America issued a video in multiple languages, demanding freedom for Georges Abdallah:
In Beirut, the national campaign to free Georges Abdallah held a protest outside the residence of the French Ambassador in Lebanon on 14 July, demanding freedom for Abdallah. Large numbers of Lebanese security forces surrounded the demonstration and forced them at some distance from the building.
“We stand again, as we do every year, on the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison to demand the freedom of political prisoners. We demand the release of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a political prisoner in French prisons for 34 years,” said Khader Anwar, a spokesperson for the protesters. “We protest to coincide with what is called the victory of the French revolution. Let us recall that the French state and its successive administrations deny the real implementation of the slogans and principles of that revolution of freedom and equality.”
Anwar said, “We turn to the government in Lebanon, and we tell them that the liberation of Lebanese prisoners is your duty, a responsibility that lies on your shoulders. The sovereignty of Lebanon that you speak of is abused daily when heroes who defended their people are held in French prisons at the request of the enemy that still occupies our land. What sovereignty can you speak of as you flock to attend the celebration of France? We consider that any statement that does not include the freedom of Georges Abdallah is deficient, no matter how it affirms the right to resist occupation.”
In Tunis, protesters organized by the Tunisian Solidarity Campaign to Free Georges Abdallah marched down Avenue Habib Bourguiba to the French embassy on 14 July.
Protesters carried signs and banners calling for freedom for Georges Abdallah, Ahmad Sa’adat and Palestinian political prisoners. They gave speeches on the large, central avenue, denouncing French colonialism and demanding the freedom of the imprisoned struggler Georges Abdallah. They highlighted the links between France’s colonial crimes in the region, its current support for Zionism and the Israeli occupation in Palestine and its imprisonment of Abdallah for nearly 34 years.
Georges Abdallah, a Lebanese Arab Communist struggler for Palestine, has been imprisoned by France since he was arrested in Lyon in October 1984. After repeated delays and violations of his rights, including one of his own lawyers serving as a spy for French intelligence, he was sentenced to life imprisonment after being charged with involvement in actions in Paris in which an Israeli diplomat and a US military attaché were killed by resistance organizations in response to the ongoing Israeli invasion and attack on Beirut and Southern Lebanon.
Abdallah, who had struggled alongside the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine against Israeli invasion in 1978, was involved with the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions (LARF). He has repeatedly filed for release since being eligible for parole in 1999. Despite winning approval for release in the French courts, political intervention at the highest levels of the French state, including the involvement of then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, blocked his release.
Despite his imprisonment, he has never hesitated to support the struggles of movements around the world, including, most recently, calling for the freedom of imprisoned Turkish revolutionary Turgut Kaya, jailed in Greece. He has gone on hunger strike in support of Palestinian prisoners on multiple occasions, and Palestinian prisoners have repeatedly expressed their solidarity with him, emphasizing that his struggle is one and the same with theirs.
In a letter to Abdallah issued from Israeli prison where he is serving a 30-year sentence, Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said: “You and those who unite with you in support and solidarity, the true comrades in France, Lebanon, Palestine and all over the world, are the natural extension of those who once carried hammers, stormed the Bastille and broke into the prison walls…the extension of those who turned the cells of the Zionist occupation into revolutionary schools from which successive generations learn the meaning of will, determination and commitment…the extension of all of the forces and movements for liberation in the world who resist for true democracy and a world free of exploitation, tyranny and subjugation, where the values of social justice, liberation and dignity prevail.”