Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network in New York organized a protest on Tuesday, 15 January, as one of the inaugural events of the International Week of Action to Free Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners. Supporters of Palestinian liberation gathered in Washington Square Park under the famous arch, chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” and other slogans in support of justice for Palestine.
Members of a number of left parties and organizations joined the demonstration, carrying signs and banners in support of the Palestinian struggle. Demonstrators distributed flyers and information about Palestine and the Palestinian prisoners to passers-by, including information about the case of Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The week of action marks the 17th anniversary of Sa’adat’s arrest by the Palestinian Authority, after he was lured to a meeting under false pretenses. Sa’adat was imprisoned by the PA for over four years, where U.S. and British guards supervised his imprisonment. The arrest and imprisonment of Sa’adat and his comrades came in the context of the PA’s “security coordination” with the Israeli occupation.
In March 2006, Israeli occupation forces violently attacked the PA prison in Jericho, killing two Palestinian guards. The U.S. and British guards had earlier cleared the path for the Israeli invasion and capture of Sa’adat and his fellow political prisoners. Sa’adat is now serving a 30-year sentence in Israeli prison for his leadership role in the PFLP.
The protesters also distributed literature about the situation facing nearly 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. In the past weeks, Israeli minister Gilad Erdan (also responsible for the global propaganda campaign against the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights) has threatened harsh repression against Palestinian prisoners, cutting their water supply, access to canteens and seeking to isolate them from one another. Prisoners have urged international solidarity to stop Erdan’s campaign of repression, abusing Palestinian prisoners as a means of seeking votes in the upcoming Israeli elections.
Samidoun activists in New York will continue their actions in support of Palestinian prisoners and as part of the Week of Action with a march for Palestinian women prisoners on Saturday, 19 January as part of the Women’s Unity Rally. This protest will focus on Khalida Jarrar, imprisoned Palestinian national leader, feminist, parliamentarian and leftist and other women prisoners, who have been on the front lines confronting Erdan’s latest repressive measures. Jarrar is jailed without charge or trial under an indefinitely renewable “administrative detention” order, along with 480 fellow Palestinian prisoners.