The March for Return and Liberation for Palestine filled the streets of Brussels near the European Parliament on Saturday, 29 October, following a week of activities and events leading up to the culmination of the march. The Week of Action for Return and Liberation was organized by a range of organizations, including Classe Contre Classe, Secours Rouge, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and the Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement.
The week unofficially launched on Saturday, 22 October with the mass march on Lannemezan prison, where Lebanese Communist struggler Georges Ibrahim Abdallah has been jailed by France for over 38 years. The Collectif Palestine Vaincra, a member organization of the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, organized buses and carpools from Toulouse that brought over 100 people to join the 1,000 marchers from collectives and organizations throughout France.
Moving to Brussels, on 24 October the week officially began in a packed room without enough seats for all attendees, which would become the standard throughout the week. The presentation by Luk Vervaet and Ahmed Frassini presented the French-language anthology “Sumud,” focusing on Palestinian political prisoners. Frassini spoke about the campaign to return the bodies of detained Palestinian prisoners that continue to be held by the Israeli occupation.
Once again, a Brussels bookshop was filled to overflowing on Tuesday, 25 October with a presentation of the Works of Mohammed Boudia at Météores. Boudia, an Algerian theatre director and fighter for Algerian independence, later joined the Palestinian revolution and fought in the ranks of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He was assassinated by the Israeli Mossad in Paris in 1975.
One day later, Belgian, Arab and Palestinian young people filled the Sacco-Vanzetti space on Wednesday, 26 October as two activists from La Grue collective reported back from their experiences in Palestine, as well as showing films and videos highlighting current developments in the Palestinian cause.
On Thursday, 27 October, Manu Pineda, Member of European Parliament from Spain, convened a special forum on Palestinian refugees and the right to return in the Parliament building, where members of the Masar Badil, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, the Collectif Palestine Vaincra and other organizations addressed European parliamentarians on the need to implement Palestinians’ right to return and put an end to European colonial complicity in Zionist colonialism in Palestine.
They urged a complete boycott of the Israeli occupation and ending gas deals based on the exploitation of stolen Palestinian natural resources, as well as ending the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which gives preferential treatment to the occupation in trade and funding.
On the evening of 27 October, Samidoun organized an international forum in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners. The event was facilitated by Thomas Hofland of Samidoun Netherlands, who spoke about Samidoun’s work and its goal to form a bridge between the Palestinian resistance strugglers jailed in Zionist prisons and the global movement.
He also discussed the role of Europe’s gas deals with the occupation, emphasizing the importance of campaigning to end the colonial plunder of Palestinian and Lebanese resources at the hands of the occupation for trade with Europe.
Mohammed Khatib, Europe coordinator of Samidoun, launched the event with a political introduction to the Palestinian cause, situating the Palestinian prisoners at the center of resistance to Zionism, imperialism and reactionary forces, including the so-called “Palestinian Authority.”
Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun, who had been denied entry to the European Union alongside Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat, the co-founder of the Masar Badil, spoke over video, giving an overview of the situation of Palestinian prisoners today and why it is so urgent to organize for their liberation.
Jaldia Abubakra of Samidoun Spain spoke about internationalism and the prisoners’ struggle, highlighting the need to link struggles against racism, fascism and imperialism in Europe with the liberation of Palestinian political prisoners, while a representative of Samidoun Deutschland spoke about their work organizing, especially, Palestinian and Arab youth and students, confronting various forms of repression and building solidarity with revolutionary movements
Nikola Becaut of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra spoke particularly about the campaign to free Georges Abdallah as a central point for mobilization, highlighting last weekend’s Lannemezan protest as a political gathering point to highlight not only Abdallah’s individual case but the Palestinian revolutionary movement.
On Friday, 28 October, the week continued on the eve of the March for Return and Liberation with a seminar organized by Secours Rouge on Palestine, internationalism and anti-imperialism. Over 200 people filled the hall at DK to hear veteran strugglers who had joined the Palestinian resistance historically. Recalling the influx of internationalist strugglers to the Palestinian revolution in the 1970s, the speakers discussed the lessons of that moment for today. Speakers included Ron Augustin, former member of the Red Army Faction, Ahmad, an Iranian comrade, and Torkil Lauesen, who appeared via video message.
Throughout the week, the Revolutionary Youth of Zurich (RJZ) held an exhibition at La Steka of the posters of revolutionary Swiss artist Marc Rudin, who joined the Palestinian revolution in Beirut and Damascus, creating many of the iconic images and posters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the PLO and other organizations in the 1980s.
On Saturday morning, before the March, activists once again crowded into the Sacco-Vanzetti space for a meeting on Palestinian women’s organizing led by Jaldia Abubakra of Alkarama Palestinian Women’s Mobilization. Participants spoke about the potential of organizing Palestinian women, particularly in exile and diaspora, linking with global women’s movements and the liberation struggle.
Following the March, on Saturday, 30 October, events of the Week concluded with a youth meeting organized in the Sacco-Vanzetti space, where people discussed student organizing and the organizing of young workers, particularly Palestinian and Arab youth in exile. Finally, Khaled Barakat — denied entry to the EU — spoke in a videoconference lecture in Arabic on the life of Fathi Shiqaqi, the Palestinian doctor, scholar and founder of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, who was assassinated in Malta by occupation forces on 26 October 1995, and who had written and spoke at various times about the need for an “alternative Palestinian revolutionary path.”
The Week of Return and Liberation culminated in the mass march on Saturday, 29 October, endorsed by over 100 organizations and with wide participation from communities and organizations throughout Belgium, France and Europe, including a large delegation from EuroPalestine. The march moved through the streets of Brussels to the European Parliament with widespread popular participation and clear goals: support for the Palestinian resistance, implementation of the Palestinian right to return and the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea!