Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network received the following report from the Revolutionary Communist Group on their activities across Britain for the Week of Action to free Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian Prisoners, including events in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle and West London. Read the full report below:
Supporting the call of the Samidoun network for action on the anniversary of the arrest of Palestinian revolutionary Ahmad Sa’adat, along with the Masar Badil callout for solidarity with the Naqab uprising, RCG branches mobilised across Britain to bring the message of resistance to the streets.
On 20 January, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) held a demonstration in Oxford Street, central London, outside Marks and Spencers, which remains a symbol of British collaboration with the Zionist settler state of Israel. Banners and placards were held high with the clear message ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Zionism is racism,’ as well as images of the freedom fighters and Palestinian political prisoners. Speakers on the open microphone spoke of Ahmad Sa’adat, the Birzeit University student prisoners and Nasser Abu Hamid, among the 4,650 Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli occupation gaols, including children, and over 500 in administrative detention without charge and trial.
The protest hailed the valiant hunger striker Hisham Abu Hawash and spoke of Georges Abdallah, a fighter for Palestine who himself has served over 37 years in French prisons and wrote a powerful statement demanding Ahmad Sa’adat’s release. Many passers-by stopped and joined in.
RCG supporters in Glasgow, Scotland, held a street stall on 20 January and received a lot of support from the community, with dozens of people signing a petition demanding freedom for Ahmad Sa’dat and all political prisoners as well as opposing British imperialism’s support for the Zionist state of Israel. On 22 January, supporters of FRFI in Newcastle protested outside Barclays because of its huge investments in the arms trade and support for Israel.
Also mobilising on 22 January, West London RCG/FRFI picketed businesses and banks on the British high street that support Britain’s partnership with Israel. Marks & Spencer, Holland and Barrett, Barclays and HSBC were called out for their corporate sponsorship of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. As a supporter of FRFI stated, ‘it’s so important for people in Britain to build an anti imperialist movement in solidarity with the oppressed in Palestine and, by extension, the global working class.’ The businesses that we targeted were forced to close their doors to customers as we protested to demand an end to all British support for the racist state of Israel.
The London-based Focus E15 housing campaign took to the streets to link Britain’s anti-working class housing policies with Israel’s eviction of indigenous Palestinians, with the message:
‘Focus E15 campaign sends solidarity to the Palestinian political prisoners. A photo from east London 22 January against evictions in London as the campaign recognises the struggle in Palestine against house demolition and land theft. Return the keys to the Palestinians. Let the political prisoners go. Long live Palestine! Long live Gaza! One struggle! One fight!’
In Manchester, a 22 January street stall followed a film showing and discussion on the imprisonment of Ahmad Sa’adat on 18 January, which featured analysis on the centrality of the political prisoners in Palestine, Ireland and other anti-imperialist struggles.
British imperialism is centrally involved in the case of Ahmad Sa’adat, with both Tory and Labour parties continuing a record of reactionary interventionism against the forces of Palestinian revolution. Narrating a chain of events beginning with the Zionist assassination of PFLP leader Abu Ali Mustafa in August 2001, sparking the assassination of fascist Israeli minister Rehavam Zeevi in the famous 17 October operation, the meeting heard of the Palestinian Authority role in locking up Sa’adat in the aftermath. A comrade told the meeting:
‘On 14 March 2006 Zionist occupation forces stormed Jericho prison and captured Sa’adat and other political prisoners, 15 minutes after Britain’s Labour government ordered the removal of its prison monitors. 50 jeeps and 3 tanks were part of the Israeli operation and two Palestinian security personnel were killed protecting the prisoners. Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw responded to Palestinian complaints by blaming the PA for not providing necessary security needed by British forces. The newly elected Hamas government had promised to release Sa’adat and the other prisoners.
Arafat and the Palestinian Authority were directly involved in the conspiracy, with the handing over of the six prisoners a trade off for Israel allowing Arafat to travel outside Ramallah. British politicians told the Israelis of their plans to leave and allowed the prison invasion to take place. The rest is history. In December 2008, Israel sentenced comrade Sa’adat to 30 years for leading a “terrorist organisation” and pinning responsibility on him for its armed actions. He has now been imprisoned for over 20 years. Prior to the events after Abu Ali’s execution, he had spent a combined further 10 years in prison on 8 different occasions. Sa’adat would spend the first three years in solitary confinement – only ending it with a collective hunger strike – and is frequently punished by the Zionist prison system’s vindictive measures. In 2011 Israel refused a Hamas demand to have Sa’adat released as part of the deal involving captured Zionist soldier Gilad Shalit.
It was an indictment of the Oslo ‘peace’ process that the colonising power could simply invade the supposedly free territory controlled by the PA, and British and US imperialist involvement reveals their true motives.’
Britain has the blood of Palestinian people on its hands as it continues the war by funding and arming the Zionist settler state. The Labour Party is as guilty as the Tories. Time to act!
Free Ahmad Sa’adat! Free all Palestinian political prisoners!
From the river to the sea – Palestine will be free!