Mass mobilization for the liberation of Georges Abdallah marches to the prison gates

On Saturday, 22 October, over 1,000 people marched to Lannemezan prison to demand the immediate release of Georges Abdallah, the imprisoned Lebanese Arab Communist struggler for Palestine imprisoned in France since 1984. This mass demonstration, the 12th annual march, was a great success that followed extensive work by many organizations, collectives, campaigns, associations, unions and political parties during a month of action for Abdallah’s freedom.

The Collectif Palestine Vaincra — a member organization of the Samidoun Network — organized a collective bus from Toulouse, accompanied by a mini-bus and multiple carpools to accommodate over 100 people seeking to travel to Lannemezan to show solidarity with the man who has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance. This mobilization was reinforced thanks to the mobilization of more than 30 local organizations uniting their voice around a common call for action.

Many committees and campaigns for Palestine and for the liberation of Georges Abdallah participated in the march, including the Collectif Palestine Vaincra, Samidoun Paris Banlieue, Samidoun Spain, Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (Masar Badil), Unitary Campaign for the Liberation of Georges Abdallah, Couserans-Palestine, Palestine Volvestre, the French Jewish Union for Peace, CAPJPO-EuroPalestine, Collectif Boycott Apartheid Israel Paris Banlieue, BDS committees, AFPS sections including its president Bertrand Heilbronn, Collectif 65 for the liberation of Georges Abdallah, Liberons Georges 33, CLGA 74, Comite Action Palestine and Liberons Georges 38.

Political organizations from across the left participated, including EELV, the French Communist Party, France Insoumise, Union Populaire, NPA, Revolution Permanente, UCL, PCRF, LO, PRCF, PCOF, LJR, JR, Popular Front of Turkey, PEPS, MJCF, Young Communists 13, Communist Party of Belgium, and others, as well as trade unions (SUD/Solidaires sections, the CNT and several CGT departments), associations like the League for Human Rights, anti-racist and anti-fascist organizations (FUIQP, Toulouse AntiCRA, AFA Tolosa, MRAP, Collectif unitaire franco-Algerienne, BRIC), and support committees for political prisoners like Secours Rouge Arabe and campaigns for Musa Asoglu and Basque prisoners.

This diversity of organizations supporting Georges Abdallah highlights the growing, dynamic and multifaceted campaign that has increased support for the imprisoned Lebanese communist growing each year.

The Collectif Palestine Vaincra organized a bloc in the demonstration around the slogan “Freedom for Georges Abdallah! Freedom for Palestine!” together with Samidoun Spain, the Masar Badil and the Samidoun Paris Banlieue. Many people joined the contingent to chant in French and Arabic in support of the Palestinian resistance, against Zionism and imperialism, rushing through the streets of Lannemezan displaying Palestinian flags and placards in support of Georges Abdallah, the Palestinian resistance and the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea. The demonstrators urged the boycott of Israel and the liberation of Palestinian prisoners, including Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Salah Hammouri, the French-Palestinian lawyer held without charge or trial under administrative detention and who recently carried out a 19-day hunger strike.

As the marchers arrived at Lannemezan prison, they chanted, “Georges Abdallah, your comrades are here!” lighting sparklers to be seen and heard even from inside the prison walls. Suzanne LeManceau read out Georges Abdallah’s statement for the occasion underlining his revolutionary commitment to the Palestinian resistance:

“The warmth of your mobilization and the enthusiasm of your commitment make light of these abominable walls, this barbed wire and the watchtowers. They collide with the deadly everydayness of the cells and allow us to glimpse glimmers of victory emerging on the horizon. Comrades and friends, your various solidarity initiatives that you have developed in this international campaign month reveals a scathing denial to those who bet on the breathlessness of your mobilization. In this campaign, Ofer prison and all the Zionist jails have all your attention and, quite naturally, the expression of your active solidarity is always more invigorating for those who have been imprisoned there for so many years…Faced with the emergence and affirmation of a new generation of resistance fighters, particularly in the West Bank, the Zionist military indulges in the worst excesses: killing young and old alike every day, destroying homes, confiscating new lands under spurious pretenses and lately encircling towns for complete blockage. Resistance confronts! It is up to men and women of good will to do the same at the regional and international level.”

LeManceau, a longtime activist for Georges Abdallah’s liberation, concluded the reading of the Lebanese communist’s statement with a tribute to the young Palestinian martyr Oday al-Tamimi, who resisted with arms in hand until his last breath against the Zionist colonial forces.

Then, many declarations were read by various solidarity organizations, including by an activist from the Collectif Palestine Vaincra. In her speech, she affirmed: “Today, we are happy to be by your side to demand the immediate release of Georges Abdallah! We are all the more so since Macron and his government have tried to silence us by dissolving the Collectif, as well as the CAP and many anti-fascist, anti-racist and Muslim organizations. Thanks to your exemplary solidarity, we are still here, still determined to build a broad movement of solidarity for the immediate release of Georges Abdallah and more broadly for the release of all 4,650 Palestinian prisoners.”

She concluded the Collectif’s statement with a call to the March for Return and Liberation of Palestine organized on 29 October toward the European Parliament in Brussels, by the Palestinian, Arab and international Masar Badil movement, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path movement. The day concluded with drinks and snacks offered by various associations, including the Collectif Palestine Vaincra, as well as the renewed commitment to continue the mobilization. Once again, Grup Yorum offered a concert of anti-imperialist songs. Supporters of the LJR, Ligue des Jeunes Revolutionnaires, organized a collection in support of the activists who invaded a football field during a match in Lyon to raise awareness of the cause of Georges Abdallah.

The day before the march, on Friday, 21 October, the Collectif Palestine Vaincra organized a public event at the Toulouse Bourse du Travail, which displayed a large banner calling for Georges Abdallah’s freedom on the front of the building. The event began with an intervention by Robert Abdallah, brother and spokesperson of the Lebanese Campaign for the Liberation of Georges Abdallah, who denounced the French government and its neo-colonial, imperialist policy towards Lebanon at the same time that France continues to imprison a Lebanese Communist struggle for 38 years, despite his eligibility for release since 1999.

The event continued with a presentation by Jaldia Abubakra, a Palestinian activist from Samidoun Spain and Masar Badil. She highlighted the work by many support committees that have publicized the case of Georges Abdallah and discussed the work of Samidoun in Spain to connect struggles for justice, in particular challenging the VBare company, an Israeli real estate company involved in gentrification and displacement in Madrid. She emphasized that through ongoing struggle and accumulation of forces, the Zionist colonization of Palestine will be defeated.

Next, Pierre Stambul of the French Jewish Union for Peace spoke about the historical complicity between France and the Zionist project. He noted that “it is not only due to Hillary Clinton’s intervention that Georges Abdallah remains in prison. It is the expression of French complicity,” recalling that this “is very old. Remember that Guy Mollet’s SFIO took part with Israel in the imperialist attack on Suez and that it transferred to Israel the technology allowing it to possess nuclear weapons.” He highlighted the criminalization of the Palestine solidarity movement and the instrumentalization of anti-Semitism, he concluded his intervention by affirming, “Israel was born out of a premeditated ethnic cleansing that has nothing legitimate about it. Anti-semitism is a crime, but anti-Zionism is a duty. We will continue to fight for the liberation of Palestine, of Salah Hammouri and of Georges Abdallah.”

The event concluded with a remote intervention over videoconference by Elsa Lefort, the wife of Salah Hammouri and spokesperson for his solidarity committee. She noted that her husband has been the target of a relentless campaign of repression for 20 years by the Israeli occupation regime. He has been imprisoned since 7 March 2022 without charge or trial under administrative detention and recently took part in a collective hunger strike to demand an end to this practice, first introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate. She concluded by emphasizing the importance of the support campaign at all levels, from the streets to Parliament, in order to expose and challenge the passivity of the French authorities in the face of an arbitrarily detained French citizen being threatened with expulsion from his native city, Jerusalem.

The evening ended with an audience discussion and a concert by Grup Yorum in honor of international solidarity. The Collectif Palestine Vaincra thanked the UD CGT 21 for the welcome as well as the numerous attendees at the crowded event.

The mass march at Lannemezan was a strong conclusion to a successful month of mobilization for Georges Abdallah. As part of the mobilization, the Collectif Palestine Vaincra carried out an information and mobilization campaign in Toulouse, organizing multiple Palestine stands to distribute information in popular neighborhoods and the city center, hosting a new screening of Fedayin: Georges Abdallah’s Fight, participating in various solidarity initiatives and distributing over 12,000 flyers, hundreds of posters and thousands of stickers. The growth of the mobilization in Toulouse and elsewhere calls upon us all to increase our efforts to continue and intensify the campaign for the liberation of Georges Abdallah and his return to his homeland, Lebanon.

Source: Collectif Palestine Vaincra