Participants in the Women’s March in New York City highlighted the case of imprisoned Palestinian leftist, feminist and parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar on Saturday, 18 January. Members of Samidoun New York and the International Action Center carried signs and distributed materials highlighting the struggles of Palestinian women prisoners in Israeli jails.
Marchers braved the bitter cold and impending snow to join the march along with a contingent of groups supporting internationalist and anti-imperialist struggles. The Campaign against Sanctions and Economic War (Sanctions Kill) carried signs and banners raising the impact of U.S. wars on people around the world, especially women – including Palestinian women, women in the Philippines and women affected by U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria and elsewhere..
Jarrar has been imprisoned since 31 October, when over 70 armed Israeli occupation soldiers invaded her home, the internationally known political leader and advocate for Palestinian rights is being charged with “holding a position in a prohibited organization,” the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Like all major Palestinian political parties, the leftist PFLP is labeled a “prohibited organization” by the Israeli occupation.
Jarrar’s case was highlighted in a report issued by Human Rights Watch, Born Without Civil Rights: Israel’s Use of Draconian Military Orders to Repress Palestinians in the West Bank. The report, which also covers the case of artist Hafez Omar and human rights worker Najwan Odeh, reviews the long and ongoing history of Jarrar’s persecution by the Israeli occupation state.
Jarrar’s most recent arrest comes only eight months after her release from 20 months in Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention after being seized by occupation forces in 2017. While imprisoned, she played a leading role in supporting the education of fellow Palestinians jailed with her, especially minor girls preparing for their high school examinations and frequently denied a teacher. She organized classes for her fellow women prisoners on the principles of international human rights law. Over 275 organizations signed onto an international call for her release.
In 2014, she resisted – and defeated – an Israeli attempt to forcibly displace her from her family home in el-Bireh to Jericho. Only nine months later, in April 2015, she was seized by Israeli occupation forces and ordered to administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. After a global outcry, she was brought before Israeli military courts and faced 12 charges based on her political activity, from giving speeches to attending events in support of Palestinian prisoners. She served 15 months in Israeli prison – and was then free for only 13 months before her 2017 arrest.
Jarrar is a longtime advocate for the freedom of Palestinian prisoners and has served as the former Vice-Chair and Executive Director of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. A member of the Palestinian Legislative Council elected as part of the leftist Abu Ali Mustafa Bloc, associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, she chaired the PLC’s Prisoners Committee.
The contingent at the Women’s March also came as part of the International Weeks of Action to Free Ahmad Sa’adat and all political prisoners, with ongoing events being organized in France, Ireland, Canada, Palestine and elsewhere to demand freedom for over 5,000 imprisoned Palestinians.