Even after the silencing of Rasmea Odeh from giving a speech on Palestinian women in the struggle for liberation in Berlin on 15 March, the Israeli state is officially continuing its campaign of defamation and harassment. The Ministry of Strategic Affairs is headed by Gilad Erdan, who also heads the Ministry of Internal Security (which includes the Israel Prison Administration) . A prominent figure in the Likud party, Erdan has stepped up global defamation campaigns against BDS organizers and Palestine solidarity activists around the world in the months leading up to the Israeli elections.
Rasmea is continuing her struggle in German courts and refusing to accept this unjust action. At the same time, Erdan’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which enjoys a multi-million dollar budget for attacking Palestine solidarity around the world, is defaming Odeh in paid ads on Twitter.
The ministry’s official Twitter account, @4ILorg, purchased paid “promoted” tweets in German and English attacking Rasmea as well as the BDS movement and Samidoun. It approvingly quoted German officials who conceded to the Israeli demand to silence Odeh, violating basic expressive rights in order to appease Israeli officials responsible for ongoing human rights violations, unjust detention, colonial occupation, settlement building, land confiscation and ongoing extrajudicial killings, both in the West Bank and in the targeting of popular protesters on the colonially-imposed “border” with Gaza every week in the Great March of Return.
“This vicious campaign reflects a deliberate exaggeration, attempting to portray the alliance of Zionist and imperialist forces in silencing a Palestinian speaker as a historic achievement. This is part of a clear policy of terrorizing the Palestinian and Arab communities in Europe. It is destined to fail inevitably, confronting the growing role of refugee movements, student organizing, youth movements and the growing popularity of the BDS movement. This is a reflection of the ongoing struggle for justice and liberation in Palestine that will end with the victory of the Palestinian people,” said Mohammed Khatib, Europe coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.
He pointed out that the targeting of the Samidoun Network by the “anti-BDS ministry” is “a failing attempt to distort our image by the racist minister Gilad Erdan, who is also the Minister of Internal Security daily targeting Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.” Khatib said that these attacks are part of an “ongoing campaign to criminalize Palestinian resistance in any form, targeting all voices and supporters of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement and their daily struggle, as the prisoners stand at the forefront of the campaign to defend their rights and all of our rights as well.”
Palestinian national leader, parliamentarian, feminist and leftist Khalida Jarrar was released from Israeli prison early Thursday morning, 28 February 2019, after 20 months of imprisonment without charge or trial under administrative detention. In an interview (video below with English subtitles) given immediately after her release, Jarrar said that “the prisoners are an integral part of the Palestinian people’s movement, and their message is always unity.”
She highlighted the conditions of Palestinian women prisoners as well as their role in the prisoners’ movement, urging attention to the conditions that they face in Damon prison after their transfer from HaSharon prison.
This video, with an interview by journalist Ali Samoudi, was filmed immediately after her release:
Jarrar’s family was told that she would be released from the Jalameh checkpoint around 12 noon, but instead she was released in the early morning at the Salem checkpoint west of Jenin. From there, she will visit the gravesite of her father in Nablus, who died during her imprisonment. She will be received at the Catholic Hall in Ramallah for a reception on Thursday night, to be followed by further receptions on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Jarrar’s daughter Yafa said on social media that the shifting of the time and place of her release was a deliberate attempt by the Israeli occupation to minimize celebrations of her release. “Israeli occupation forces just released Mom at 4:00 am (Jerusalem time) this morning at Salem checkpoint near Jenin, which is contrary to what they have informed us. Mom was informed that she would be release at 12:30 pm at Al-jalameh checkpoint near Nablus. Instead, they released Mom in the very early hours at a different location and let her walk free by herself in the middle of no where. In spite of Israel’s attempts to disrupt her reception, Mom is FREE!” she noted.
This is not the first time that Jarrar has been imprisoned by the Israeli occupation; her arrest in 2017 came only 13 months after she was released from Israeli prison after serving a 15-month sentence for her public political activity. After being arrested in 2015, she was ordered to administrative detention; in response to public outrage, she was transferred to the military courts for a bogus trial. During this most recent 20 months in prison, she remained jailed with no charges and no trial the entire time.
In an interview with Wattan TV, Jarrar noted the attacks of Israeli occupation minister of internal security and strategic affairs Gilad Erdan against the Palestinian prisoners. Erdan also directs the Israeli state’s global attacks on the BDS movement and Palestine solidarity campaigns internationally. “The situation of the women prisoners is not easy, especially after the Erdan decision to transfer them from the HaSharon prison to Damon prison as a punishment for them after a 63-day protest against the installation of surveillance cameras in the prison yard. This is part of an overall attack against the prisoners,” Jarrar said.
“The occupation is trying to transfer the prisoners to make them begin their struggle from a zero point, but the prisoners continue to maintain their unity and cohesion and demand a change in their circumstances. The prisoners’ rooms are filled with moisture, and the electrical installations are very dangerous because they are wet and prone to fires. There is a real danger and a complaint has been lodged with the prison administration,” Jarrar said. “In addition to the fact that the prison yards are full of cameras, there is no library for the prisoners and there is no kitchen. The prisoners have to cook inside the rooms filled with moisture.”
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Khalida Jarrar and the Palestinian people upon her release. Her steadfastness, leadership and clarity of vision is an inspiration to people around the world struggling for freedom. As International Women’s Day approaches, we celebrate the liberation of Khalida Jarrar and pledge to intensify our efforts to free all of the Palestinian women and men jailed by the Israeli occupation. We congratulate Khalida Jarrar on her freedom and pledge to continue on her path of struggle until the freedom of every Palestinian political prisoner behind bars, and the freedom of Palestine.
One year ago, January 24 2018, a few us started the initiative Free Ahed Tamimi Gothenburg (Frihet åt Ahed Tamimi Göteborg). We created a Facebook page and called to protest to bring attention to the detention by the Israeli occupation of the then 16-year-old Palestinian girl Ahed tamimi. By then, the case had already received substantial attention around the world, but Swedish initiatives were glaringly absent. To us, it was an unmistakable opportunity to highlight that Ahed’s crime, like that of so many other Palestinians, was to defy Israel, an apartheid regime maintained by military occupation. A regime whose settler colonial violence is tied up in other imperialist projects such as Fortress Europe and numerous Western military adventures in the Middle East and North Africa in what are labeled wars on “terrorism” and “extremism”. A regime, whose ethnic cleansing, oppression and exploitation are motivated by false ethnonationalist claims of being the homeland of all Jewish people. A regime, whose allies are not to be found among those who combat racism, xenophobia and antisemitism, but among the antisemitic government of Hungary, the Nazi-dominated Ukraine and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, who is prepared to sacrifice the jungles of the Amazon rainforest for private economic interests. With her “slap that was heard around the world”, Ahed Tamimi demonstrated that it is possible to resist, and with her words inside and outside the prison walls Ahed has recalled the necessity for all of us who struggle for liberation and a just future to connect our struggles in every way we can.
Since our first protest early last year, we have organized a number of other activities: More protests of different kinds, alone and together with others; letter writing evenings for Ahed Tamimi and other Palestinian prisoners; movie screenings and talks to advance our knowledge on Palestine and widen our understanding of how the struggle for a free Palestine is connected to so many other struggles for justice and liberation. We have established many connections locally and internationally through our work. Among others with the international network Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. After discovering many common standpoints, we decided with the release of Ahed and her mother Nariman Tamimi at the end of July 2018 to regroup as an autonomous local group of the network, Samidoun Gothenburg (Samidoun Göteborg).
Today, a year later, January 24 2019, we in Samidoun Gothenburg have just finished marking the international week of action for the freedom of the Palestinian prisoner and General Secretary of the PFLP, Ahmad Sa’adat. Together with many international groups and in many different ways, we have highlighted the question and always pointed to the connection between individual important Palestinian prisoners such as Ahed Tamimi and Ahmad Sa’adat on the one hand and all Palestinian prisoners, the Palestinian liberation struggle and all international struggles for peace, freedom and justice on the other. We hope, and believe, that our work has contributed to generating interest, attention, engagement and hopes for the solidarity work for all Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian liberation struggle. In the near future, we support the work for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel as part of the international BDS campaign för an end to the occupation of Palestine, for an end to the apartheid regime and for the right of return for all Palestinian refugees. During February, we will also highlight the prominent Palestinian feminist and leftist parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar, who by the end February will have been held for 16 months of administrative detention as part of the Israeli attempts to suppress resistance by attacking resistance leaders. In both of these issues, we work with others and encourage others to contribute with even the smallest of means to the solidarity work with the Palestinian liberation struggle.
Finally, we continue to push important issues of imperialism and international solidarity with Palestine and Palestinian prisoners as the focus of our work. Our solidarity with Palestinian prisoners is simultaneously solidarity with the repeatedly punished, but persistently struggling, leadership of the Palestinian struggle for liberation as well as with the Palestinian masses who after 70 years of Israeli oppression and more than 100 years of international occupation and colonisation steadfastly persist in their defiant existence and creative resistance. We struggle with a radical conviction that the struggle for the liberation of Palestine is an indispensible struggle for all those around the world who struggle against oppression and exploitation and for peace, freedom and justice.
Palestinian prisoner Fares Baroud, 51, from al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza, died on Wednesday, 6 February only hours after being suddenly transferred to intensive care from Ramon prison. Baroud suffers from a number of health conditions, including a hernia and liver disease, and has repeatedly spoken about medical neglect and denial of needed health treatment to Palestinian prisoners.
Earlier, he had lost 80 percent of his sight due to a vision problem; treatment was delayed for four months by the prison administration for his condition. Palestinian prisoners’ associations said that Baroud has been subjected to deliberate medical neglect over the years and that he has been denied necessary medical care that could have sustained his life.
Baroud had been denied family visits for 18 years by the Israeli occupation, including with his mother, Rayya Baroud. Rayya suffered from the same vision condition, losing her sight and her life before seeing her son again. Before her death in 2018 at the age of 85 , she participated every week in the vigils of prisoners’ families outside the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City, holding her son’s poster and demanding his release and that of his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned since 1991, Baroud was one of the prisoners slated to be released in 2013 as part of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Instead, the occupation violated the agreement, refusing to release the final 30 prisoners named, including Baroud.
He participated in numerous hunger strikes and protests during his years in Israeli prison. Most recently, he held an open hunger strike in 2018 against the Palestinian Authority’s cuts to prisoners’ support, particularly those against prisoners from Gaza. After his strike, he suffered severe liver disease, but did not receive prompt medical care. Months later, he required surgery on his liver.
Baroud was held in Ramon prison and had been transferred to multiple prisons over the years. He was repeatedly held in isolation through his 27 years of imprisonment.
Following Baroud’s death, there are reports of widespread anger and rising protest from Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. A closure and lockdown has been imposed at Ramon and Nafha prisons. Baroud is the 218th Palestinian prisoner to die in Israeli jails, many due to medical neglect, mistreatment or denial of necessary healthcare.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network mourns the loss of Fares Baroud, his life taken away by 28 years of imprisonment and isolation – including 18 painful years of collective punishment for him and his loved ones, denied family visits until the moment of his death. We note that this loss is part of the ongoing and systematic medical neglect and abuse taking place inside Israeli prisons – as we see in recent days with the renewal of administrative detention orders against severely ill Palestinian prisoners Walid Khaled Sharaf and Moataz Obaido, imprisoned without charge or trial while their lives are at risk. We urge all supporters of justice in Palestine to continue to organize to demand freedom and justice for nearly 6,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails – and freedom and justice for Palestine.
Palestinian prisoner Walid Khaled Sharaf, 25, from Abu Dis in occupied Jerusalem, is suffering from serious illness in Ramle prison clinic. Sharaf is jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention; the order against him was renewed for another six months on 4 February on the basis of so-called “secret evidence” despite his deteriorating health condition. He has been jailed without charge or trial since 10 June 2018 and has spent nearly five years in Israeli prison over multiple detention periods.
Sharaf is suffering from kidney, liver and intestinal disease as well as a skin disorder. His condition has worsened significantly and he was transferred from Ofer prison to the Ramle prison clinic, notorious for its neglect and mistreatment of ill Palestinian prisoners.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network emphasizes that the Israeli occupation holds full responsibility for the life and health of Walid Khaled Sharaf, imprisoned without charge or trial and facing a severe health crisis. Sick Palestinian prisoners are facing daily mistreatment, neglect and abuse conducted by the Israel Prison Service and the occupation security agencies.
Sharaf is one of approximately 500 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention. These orders are issued for up to six months at a time and are indefinitely renewable; Palestinians have spent years at a time jailed under administrative detention orders. This policy is frequently used to target student leaders, community organizers and other prominent Palestinians, such as members of the Palestinian Legislative Council like Khalida Jarrar.
There are 15 Palestinian prisoners held at the Ramle prison clinic with the most serious health conditions and 140 more with severe, life-threatening conditions. Twenty-one prisoners have cancer and 34 have some form of serious disability that prevents them from performing daily tasks. Israeli prisons are not accessible for prisoners with disabilities, who require assistance from other prisoners for basic needs. Another Palestinian jailed without charge or trial, Moataz Obeidu, requires the assistance of his fellow prisoners to move, uses a colostomy bag and needs help with personal needs. Despite needing treatment outside the prison walls, he is facing a four-month extension of his administrative detention.
Israa Jaabis is one of several women prisoners suffering from severe health problems. A cooking gas cylinder she was carrying caught on fire inside her car at an Israeli checkpoint, and Jaabis was forced to remain inside her car in the blaze. She suffered burns over 60 percent of her body, eight of her fingers were amputated and she suffered severe damage to her arms, ears, nose and face. She requires assistance with basic daily activities like eating, bathroom usage and changing clothes. Despite her severe health condition, Jaabis, a mother and social worker was sentenced to 11 years in Israeli prison, where she continues to require critical surgeries and depends on fellow prisoners for support.
Samidoun urges all international supporters of Palestine to join the call to free Walid Sharaf and all sick prisoners from Israeli occupation prisons. Their health is facing further deterioration and their lives are at risk due to the ongoing practices of the Israeli state.
1. Organize events, actions and protests at Israeli embassies and consulates around the world to highlight the struggle of Palestinian political prisoners. Protest in public squares and other open community spaces. Send us your events! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Distribute this call to action and take media actions, like posting photos with the photo of Walid Sharaf (above) and other Palestinian prisoners with messages of solidarity. Send us your links, statements and photos! Email us at email@example.com or send us a message on Facebook.
3. Include Walid Sharaf and the Palestinian prisoners in your Palestine solidarity, anti-racism, anti-imperialist and social justice events. Bring flyers and posters or share information about the prisoners as part of your program. Let us know what you’re doing: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message on Facebook.
4. Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law through economic, cultural, academic and other forms of boycott. Don’t buy Israeli goods, and campaign to end investments in corporations that profit from the occupation. Learn more at bdsmovement.net.
صامدون تدعو الى تحرك عاجل لإنقاذ حياة الأسير وليد شرف
حّملت ” شبكة صامدون للدّفاع عن الاسرى ” سلطات الاحتلال الاسرائيلية المسؤولية الكاملة عن حياة الأسير وليد خالد شرف (25 عاماً) من بلدة أبو ديس في القدس المحتلة بعد تجديد أمر الاعتقال الإداري بحقه رغم وضعه الصحي الخطير حيث يعاني شرف من امراض في الكلى والأمعاء والكبد وضمور في الجلد، وقد تم نقله من معتقل ” عوفر ” إلى ” عيادة سجن الرملة ” بعد تدهور حالته الصحية لخطورة وضعه الصحي.
واعتبرت ” شبكة صامدون ” ان ممارسات الاحتلال وتجاهل الاسرى المرضى تُعد جرائم يومية يرتكبها كيان الاحتلال وسلطات السجون الصهيونية على مدار الساعة بحق الاسيرات والاسرى الفلسطينيين . وطالبت ” صامدون ” بالضغط الاوروبي والدولي على سلطة الاحتلال من أجل إطلاق سراح الاسير شرف وكل الاسرى المرضى من سجون الاحتلال محذرة من تداعيات استمرار اعتقالهم في ظل تدهور اوضاعهم الصحية كما في حالة الاسير شرف.
La Red Samidoun (solidaridad con los presos palestinos) insta a una movilización para salvar la vida del preso Walid Sharaf
La red Samidoun, hace responsable a la ocupación y a sus responsables carcelarios, sobre la vida del preso Walid Khaled Sharaf (25 años), de Abu Dis (Jerusalén), después de que las autoridades carcelarias, renovaran la detención administrativa del Sharaf, y a pesar de su grave estado de salud, ya que el preso sufre de una atrofia cutánea y problemas en los riñones, en los intestinos y en el hígado, habiendo sido trasladado de la presión de Ofer, a la clínica de Ramlah, y desde ahí, a un hospital civil dependiente de la ocupación, por el agravamiento de su estado de salud.
La red Samidoun, considera que las prácticas de la ocupación, hacia los presos enfermos, podría catalogarse como crímenes de guerra que se cometen a diario, tanto por la ocupación, como por las autoridades carcelarias, y de forma continuada, y en contra de las presas y presos.
Así también, la red Samidoun, reclama que se ejerza una presión internacional sobre la entidad de la ocupación, para la puesta en libertad del preso Sharaf, y de todos los presos enfermos en las cárceles de la ocupación, advirtiendo de las consecuencias de seguir las detenciones de los presos, cuando sus condiciones de salud son mermadas, como lo es el caso del preso Sharaf.
Israeli special units have escalated their repressive tactics against Palestinian political prisoners in the past days,. These attacks have led to an ongoing mass protest inside Ofer prison, called “the battle of unity and dignity” by the prisoners. Repressive forces raided Section 17 of Ofer prison on 20 January, followed by Section 15 and other sections on 21 January. The repression continued as Section 2 in Megiddo prison was also attacked by these repressive forces, who claimed to install jamming devices to prevent mobile phone communications.
These violent raids have involved the use of dogs, batons, tasers, large-scale damage and confiscation of prisoners’ belongings by the heavily armed units. Most concerningly, these armed units (including the Masada, Dror, Yamaz and Yamam units) fired tear gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets inside closed prison rooms, endangering prisoners’ health and even their lives. An estimated 150 Palestinian prisoners were injured in these attacks. Some suffered the effects of tear gas, others were bruised and wounded, while still more suffered fractures to the jaw, nose or head. There are between 1,000 and 1,200 Palestinian prisoners held in Ofer, including hundreds of Palestinian children.
Israeli forces put the prison under a complete closure, cancelling legal visits and court appearances. Prisoners have continued their protests in response. The prisoners are returning their meals from the Israel Prison Service and refusing to go out to the recreation yard. On Wednesday, 23 January, several prominent prisoners, including Ziad Bseiso and Mohammed Abu Armaneh, announced a hunger strike, demanding the return of previous conditions prior to the raid in Ofer prison.
Karim Ajwa, a Palestinian lawyer, visited prisoners in Ofer on Wednesday, the first day that legal visits were allowed after the attacks. Ajwa reported that prisoners said that the media reports about conditions in the prison only hint at “1 percent” of the terror imposed by the occupation forces. They also said that 40 members of these repressive units and armed police remain in the prison yard, their sections have been turned into isolation sections, the “canteen” (prison store) closed and the prisoners’ electrical appliances confiscated.
These attacks mark an ongoing escalation against Palestinian prisoners as announced by Gilad Erdan, the Minister of Public Security responsible for the Israel Prison Service. In various pronouncements, Erdan has vowed to escalate repression against the Palestinian prisoners, amid the upcoming Israeli elections in which attacks on Palestinians are being touted as electoral propaganda. Thousands of books have been confiscated, women prisoners were moved en masse after the installation of surveillance cameras and prisoners’ access to water has been cut. Erdan also announced a plan to stop Palestinian prisoners from cooking food for themselves or even buying cooking supplies from the “canteen.”
It should be noted that Erdan is also the Minister of Strategic Affairs in the Israeli regime, charged with attacking Palestine solidarity organizing and the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement around the world.
All of these attacks mark an effort to roll back achievements that have been won by the Palestinian prisoners only through years of hard-fought struggles, hunger strikes and collective action. They are also an attempt to defuse the power of Palestinian political leadership behind Israeli bars.
The invasion of Ofer prison is one of the most severe attacks by repressive forces on Palestinian prisoners since 2007, when a “morale-building operation” for these same forces in Negev Ketziot prison included the murder of Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Ashqar. Invading forces shot Ashqar in the head after prisoners protested the violent invasion at 2 a.m., killing him instantly. One officer of the repressive Masada forces involved in the attack recommended increased prison raids after the killing.
The prisoners originally rejected a meeting with the prison administration; after arriving at a collective consensus and demanding time for a meeting between all of the political organizations in the prison, the prisoners’ representatives put forward their demands in a meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Another “decisive” meeting will follow on Wednesday, 23 January, depending on the administration’s response to the prisoners’ demands.
Prisoners have emphasized the importance of popular support for the struggle inside Israeli jails. Ali al-Maghrabi, a former prisoner, said that “the success of any protest stap carried out inside the prisons of the occupation depends 60 percent on the volume of external support, media coverage and organizations concerned with the issue, and 40 percent on the prisoners’ internal cohesion, determination and unity.”
A wide range of statements have poured in from Palestinian political organizations and figures; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine urged mobilization for the prisoners on Wednesday, while Archbishop Atallah Hanna urged broad solidarity with their struggle. The National and Islamic Forces in the Gaza Strip held a press conference expressing the urgent need for action and warning of a “revolution” within the prisons.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners in Ofer and all Zionist jails. We urge all supporters of justice for Palestine to resist these attacks by protesting and organizing in support of the prisoners’ and their struggle for liberation. In particular, we urge the escalation of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns for the economic, academic, military and cultural boycott of Israel – especially as the same officials directing the attacks on the prisoners are also trying to stop this growing global movement. Demonstrations, solidarity hunger strikes and call-in campaigns can escalate pressure on international governments to end their complicity with the occupier’s crimes in Palestine.
“The Zionist occupier has declared war on the prisoners in its jails and it began this war in Ofer prison. We are facing a new stage of Zionist repression that threatens our lives as prisoners. We have become the strongest issue in the corridors of government and among the Zionist parties in a feverish competition to confiscate our rights and destroy our achievements gained through sacrifice, blood and martys.
“The prison administration, backed by political cover and reinforced with special repressive units (Masada-Dror-Yamaz-Yamam) has been engaged in an operation since Sunday, 20 January 2019, through Monday evening, 21 January: breaking into several sections of Ofer prison, carrying out provocative searches, destroying our possessions and torturing us through strip searches and verbal abuse. We defended our dignity as we could as the prison rooms and sections were turned into a real battlefield, using rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas against us at zero distance. They used dogs, batons and tasers, resulting in the injury of over 100 prisoners, the burning of several rooms, the confiscation of our possessions and closure of all sections. The situation is highly tense and we will take escalating protest steps in the coming hours.
“In face of this unprecedented, bloody escalation, we affirm the following:
1) We call this battle by the name, “the battle of unity and dignity,” a confirmation of our unity and brotherhood and our commitment to preserve our dignity
2) We are the prisoners and in the face of this bloody onslaught, we will stand united to confront this arrogance, armed with the justice of our cause and with the use of all means of legitimate defense against this wave of violence against us.
3) This violent attack on the prisoners comes within the framework of organized state terror and the use of the prisoners’ issue as an outlet for the Israeli government before the public.
4) We warn against using the prisoners’ issue as a lever for the Israeli parties to attract the Israeli voter. We will cause every bet to fail.
5) We call on all international and human rights organizations, especially the International Committee of the Red Cross and international human rights bodies, to uphold their humanitarian, moral and legal responsibilities to stop the crimes committed against us and compel the occupation to abide by international laws and norms that protect our rights.
6) We call on all free media outlets to carry our stories and stay current about ongoing events in the prison, exposing the occupier’s violation of our freedoms and our rights.
Our people are steadfast. Today is a day of fulfillment, we are part of you and you are part of us. We are shortening our years for the sake of our homeland, so do not limit your use of your time for our stolen freedom. We look forward to great public interest and support throughout Palestine, confirming to the occupier that the prisoners are a red line that cannot be crossed.
And victory for us, God willing, as we stand united and confident in the fairness of our cause and our choices.
Your brothers, the prisoners of Ofer prison Palestinian National Liberation Movement – Fateh Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine”
The Internationalt Forum Middle East Group organized an information sharing action in Copenhagen on Monday, 21 January as part of the International Week of Action to Free Ahmad Sa’adat. Following on an earlier event raising funds to support Palestinian prisoners’ advocacy, the event included the distribution of flyers and literature about the case of Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and his fellow nearly-6,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.
The participants distributed hundreds of flyers to passers-by amid a rainy, snowy evening. Despite the winter weather, activists reported that the information was very well-received by people on the streets, especially on Blågårdsgade, where the participants gathered.
They also distributed information about the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign and the boycott of Israel. One campaign involving many activists in Denmark and across Europe is the campaign to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest so long as its finals continue to be scheduled in apartheid Israel. Organizers across the continent are participating in creative actions, petition campaigns and protests, urging that the final series be moved.
A number of prominent artists have pledged to boycott the contest so long as it continues its complicity with colonialism in occupied Palestine. On Sunday evening, 20 January, activists in France took action on stage on France 2, amid a “Destination Eurovision” promotional program, urging boycott of the event:
After distributing flyers, they lit torches and marched through the streets of the Nørrebro area of Copenhagen with signs reading “Free Ahmad Sa’adat” and sharing slogans: “Fight imperialism and Zionism, Boycott Israel, Free Palestine!”
The protest came as part of the international events marking the 17th anniversary of the political leader’s arrest by deception by the Palestinian Authority on 15 January 2002. He was imprisoned by the PA for four years under U.S. and British guard, part of its security coordination with the Israeli occupation. In March 2006, shortly before newly elected PA officials were to be sworn in, Israeli occupation forces violently attacked the PA’s Jericho prison where Sa’adat and his comrades were held; the U.S. and British guards moved aside in advance to support the attack, in which two Palestinians were killed by the Israeli forces. Today, Sa’adat is serving a 30-year sentence in Israeli occupation prisons.
As Israeli elections approach, politicians have competed with one another to urge harsher repression and violations against the prisoners. Gilad Erdan, the Israeli minister over the Israel Prison Service – who also is responsible for the apartheid colonial state’s global anti-BDS campaign – has launched a string of attacks on the prisoners, cutting their water supply and confiscating thousands of books.
The leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmad Sa’adat, does not cry out from prison to complain about his own conditions. He asks nothing for himself except books and some pictures of his family. But we, his friends, comrades and supporters, can and must shout for him, at the very least. This could be described as a challenging time for the Palestinian liberation movement, when the cause and its solid revolutionary core (the Palestinian prisoners’ movement) are subject to escalating Zionist attacks, backed to the hilt by an unparalleled American alliance with Arab reactionary regimes. The Palestinian people and their strugglers in the Gaza Strip are confronting with all forms of resistance the most well-armed force in the region.
At this time, movements of solidarity with the Palestinian people are active in many countries of the world. On this occasion, they are organizing the International Week of Solidarity with Ahmad Sa’adat, for the freedom of this imprisoned national leader. He resembles his people and their exceptional strugglers; he brings to mind the pain of the forgotten, suppressed refugee camps, the voices of the Palestinian popular majority, forced under the wheel of occupation and colonialism and into the fires of a regime of total oppression.
The true character of a person can become clear at the most severe moments of challenge. In the case of Ahmad Sa’adat, he has faced a daily test in interrogation rooms and torture cells since 1969, when he was first arrested as a rebellious Palestinian boy on the streets of Ramallah and its camps. Since then, Ahmad Sa’adat, a student at the school of Al-Hakim (George Habash), has always stood firm in each stage of challenge, succeeding in passing the tests – and revealing the essence and meaning of the freedom fighter.
This true character is apparent under the sun, in the time of isolation, exhaustion and retreat, not in the moments of progress, advancement and forward movement. It appears at a time when the situation degenerates, the leadership has no political compas, and there is instead much talk of “peace”, “reconcilation,” and adaptation to the conditions of Zionism and colonialism. In these periods, the intellectuals of the defeated authority also strive, without being pursued or imprisoned by the enemy, to convince the people that they see a rose garden ahead when the Palestinian people know that there is only a dustbin ahead.
The real nature of the revolutionary fighter is shown when their ideas and will are tested on the harsh rocks of reality, which does not lie and is only biased toward the truth. These are important moments in the history of the peopl, the party and the national liberation movement.
“I do not have the right to forget or be tired. I do not have the right to complain,” Ahmad Sa’adat told us in a private message.
And Ahmad is not forgotten
Forgetting, in the Palestinian situation, is more than an error or a lack of follow-through. It is the equivalent of death, acceptance of defeat, submission and its conditions, a betrayal of the very fundamental questions of Palestinian existence. Forgetting is the secret scourge of those who submit and collude with the occupier – and an active and public participation in its crimes. It is the poison of the enemy and its daily weapon, providing the arguments and pretexts for surrender.
Perhaps this is why you find a phrase on the walls of poor Palestinians, in the camps, in the village and in the prisons: We will not forgive and we will not forget.
This stubborn insistence on preserving and protecting Palestinian collective memory and popular consciousness, this steadfastness in defending the cause, is the inspiration to a fighter in a difficult time. And it is a humanitarian and revolutionary value that confirms the meaning of loyalty and commitment to the path of the martyrs, the comrades and the captives who came before, who lived, who will be born, some of whom will never be known. How can his comrades forget Mohammed al-Khawaja, when he remained firm on his last cold night, declaring “confession is treason?” How can Ibrahim al-Rai be forgotten, when he went to death smiling to protect the secrets of his comrades? And Khalil Abu Khadija, Mustafa al-Akkawi, and hundreds of comrades who refused the shackles on their wrists and would not adapt to their conditions. They said: “No.” In a difficult times, without greatness or clarity, how could we forget the leader or the human, or grow tired of the struggle?
Comrade Ahmad Sa’adat shows us the experience of true leaders, the existence of a revolutionary and alternative Palestinian leadership of a different type inside the Zionist prisons. A national leadership born from the womb of the people, born of revolution, intifada and experiences of struggle, a leadership that looks like the Palestinian people – and not like the “brigadier general,” “the colonel,” “the president,” “the minister” or “the ambassador.” A leadership elected through struggle and suffering that derives its legitimacy from higher and more important ethical sources than the Authority’s elections and its confiscated insitutions. Yet, shamefully, those without true political authority, occupy the Authority with authoritarian practices from the palaces of Ramallah.
Ignoring this bitter Palestinian reality or abandoning it in difficult times is a disgrace, as it provides all authority to palaces, bank owners and corporations, while it deprives the camps, subjecting them to punishment and liquidation. There is a close relationship between the camp and the prison; there is also a close relationship between the palace and the treasonous authority.
In the experience of struggle, we recognize some important facts:
The leaders of the national liberation struggle, with revolutionary conviction and steadfastness in the face of the Zionist enemy, also show the highest levels of democracy, flexibility and compassion in dealing with internal issues, in understanding of people’s conditions and situations. On the other hand, you can find that most of the leaders of normalization and security coordination with the enemy are the most harsh and dictatorial in their relations with the masses, within their parties and even inside their homes.
As Palestinians we say: they are soft doves in front of the enemy, and a lion in front of you!
The national leader Ahmad Sa’adat and dozens of his fellow leaders and strugglers in the occupation prisons represent a unique and important model in this Palestinian context. They are imprisoned because the colonizer fears them. This is a fact that must not be forgotten. The issue is not simply that of a person. Instead, the occupier knows that the prsence of these people outside the walls of the prisons, leading the daily struggle, means a change in reality, their noble principles becoming the rule rather than the exception. It is always in the interests of the enemy to deal with a corrupt, ineffective “leadership,” always prepared to fight for its small privileges and crumbs from the rulers of oil and capital.
The reader may ask:
Why do we not see mass popular demonstrations in occupied Palestine and the Arab homeland against the Zionist onslaught on the prisoners’ movement? Or on the anniversary of the kidnapping of the leader Sa’adat and his comrades, which passed without such any action?
This is a burning, logical and legitimate question, yes. But it is also a collective question, and the answer requires work, not mere words or excuses. This is a question for the entire Palestinian national movement, and at the heart of it, the comrades of Ahmad Sa’adat, first and foremost.
Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Lebanese Arab Communist struggler for Palestine imprisoned in France for 34 years, issued a statement urging greater action to free imprisoned Palestinian leader Ahmad Sa’adat and his fellow Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. This audio message, recorded from Lannemezan prison in France, was released at the 13 January event in Berlin launching the Week of Action to Free Ahmad Sa’adat, with events taking place in countries around the world from 15 to 22 January.
Previously, Sa’adat issued a statement from Israeli prison urging participation in international actions to free Georges Abdallah, highlighting his place as a leader and comrade of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement.
The Arabic audio is available, followed by the English text of Georges Abdallah’s speech:
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Friends, sisters and brothers, comrades:
We mark the seventeenth anniversary of the arrest of our leader, the prisoner Ahmed Sa’adat, under extremely complex and dangerous political circumstances; not least of which are the repercussions of the structural crisis that is affecting the foundations of the world order and making the Arab world a theater of the contradictions between the various imperialist countries and their assets in the region. It is within this framework that we see the propagation of the U.S. initiative known today as the “deal of the century” and the drive towards the liquidation of the Palestinian cause in all its dimensions.
This “deal of the century” did not come from nowhere, and it did not draw its parameters and build its foundations overnight. Rather, it is the outcome of a three-decade process that began in the early 1990s. Throughout this period, the “creative chaos” continued, as it continues today throughout the Arab world and especially in occupied Palestine. This is accentuated by the insistence of a corrupted leadership on chasing the illusion of peaceful solutions. These delusions have continued for some time, as these leaders confuse their direct interests with the historic rights of our people. It is mostly the latter that have been sacrificed on the altar of immediate benefits for that small sector.
Throughout this negotiating process, they have always chanted slogans that only confirm the path of surrender: “negotiations to achieve the aspirations of our people”, “the state is within reach” and “the state is set in stone.”
Where now can we find the “achievements” of this negotiating track?! What did Oslo and its ominous agreements and outcomes produce for our masses? In short, we can say that “security coordination” is the outcome of this path … Perhaps the arrest of our comrade and leader, the prisoner Ahmad Sa’adat, by the Palestinian Authority was one of the first achievements of “security coordination” between this sector controlling the Palestinian decision-making process and the authorities of the Zionist entity. Today, the importance of security coordination, not only for the Zionist entity, but also for some of the PA’s leadership and its security services, is no longer unknown or hidden. Therefore, the latter believes that it is doing all it can to confirm and further spread this treacherous approach. Despite all the public statements that have been made, security coordination between the organs of the Authority and the occupation forces has never ceased.
In the final analysis, the basic purpose of “security coordination” has become, apart from its active role in suppressing all forms of resistance and armed struggle in particular, the spreading of a culture of coordination. It eliminates the prohibition on dealing with the enemy and somehow transforms it into a relationship between two neighbors rather than a relationship between occupied and occupier. This is the context of the Palestinian Authority’s failure to denounce Arab official normalization processes. Within this approach, the position of this “National Authority” concedes to American and Israeli pressure on the support of prisoners and the families of martyrs as well as in the actions taken against Gaza and the heroic masses of Gaza.
In this context, we also see the repressive measures being escalated today in the Zionist prisons and, at the same time, the institutions concerned with defending the prisoners of the Palestinian revolution are being attacked … All this and many other factors must push all those who believe in the cause to reaffirm the importance of the role of these men, women and children, standing on embers in the castles of dignity, our heroic and steadfast prisoners. It also highlights the need to put the issue of their liberation, not only political solidarity with them – despite its importance – at the top of our priorities.
That the position of the majority of the Arab bourgeoisie falls in the camp of the Zionist enemy, in all honesty and without ambiguity, makes this task – “the task of liberating the prisoners of the Palestinian revolution” – an important step toward “building a comprehensive Arab resistance front.”
Salutes to the leadership of the Palestinian revolution, our heroic and steadfast prisoners, and at the forefront comrade leader Ahmed Sa’adat, Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine!
Yes, to build a comprehensive Arab resistance front to confront normalization in all its forms!
Glory and eternity to our martyrs!
Victory for the masses and struggling peoples!
Shame upon the traitors and those who surrender!
Down with imperialism and its guard dogs – the Zionists and Arab reactionaries!
With all my greetings to all of you, your friend Georges Abdallah
The International Week of Action to Free Ahmad Sa’adat kicked off in Berlin on Sunday, 13 January with the Palestinian contingent in the Liebknecht-Luxemburg-Lenin Demonstration as well as an evening event highlighting the struggle of Palestinian political prisoners. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network participated with other Palestinian and solidarity organizations in the morning’s demonstration, which brought over 10,000 people together not only to mourn the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Rosa Liebknecht and Karl Luxemburg, but to protest for revolutionary political change.
The evening event featured guests from Coup Pour Coup 31, the anti-imperialist collective in Toulouse, France, that is a member of the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. These activists are organizers with the Campaign to Free Georges Abdallah in France and have played a major role in popularizing his case and building the mobilization for his liberation. Organizers with Coup Pour Coup have visited with Georges Abdallah on many occasions in the prison of Lannemezan, where he is held.
The statement from Coup Pour Coup 31 is reprinted below, in English. Georges Ibrahim Abdallah has been imprisoned for 34 years in France; despite being eligible for release since 1999, he has remained behind bars. The French government has refused his release, intervening at the highest levels to override judicial decisions for his parole. This has come hand in hand with pressure from the Israeli and U.S. governments, including interference by successive U.S. Secretaries of State, including Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton.
More recently, Lebanese President Michel Aoun expressed his interest in the case and securing Abdallah’s freedom; he is a Lebanese citizen who would return to Lebanon upon his release. For the first time since his imprisonment, the Lebanese ambassador to France visited him in prison. While these are indications that the growing campaign in Lebanon, France and internationally is having an effect, the organizers emphasized in their presentation that building the international campaign is critical to winning his liberation.
In addition, Georges Abdallah himself sent a voice message from prison to this event and to mark the International Week of Action to Free Ahmad Sa’adat. His statement was a strong call to action to liberate the prisoners as well as a denunciation of the policies of Palestinian Authority “security coordination” that led to the original imprisonment of Sa’adat by the Palestinian Authority in 2002 and that continue to participate with the Israeli occupation in the repression of Palestinian resistance today. (Listen in Arabic below or read the English text here)
Charlotte Kates, Samidoun international coordinator, spoke about the Week of Action to Free Ahmad Sa’adat, noting that events are taking place in many countries around the world, including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Argentina, Germany, Britain, Greece, Denmark and more. She also reviewed the case of Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the reasons for the international mobilization for his freedom. She noted that this week of action is organizing to free all Palestinian prisoners, but highlights Sa’adat’s leadership as well as the international responsibility in his imprisonment.
Sa’adat has been imprisoned since 2006 by the Israeli occupation; in March of that year, heavily armed occupation forces attacked the PA’s prison in Jericho, where he had been imprisoned by his comrades for the previous four years. They killed two Palestinian guards and injured many more in the process; Sa’adat is now serving a 30-year sentence for his role as General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He refused to participate in the Israeli military trial that convicted him, portions of which were observed by Kates as part of a legal/activist delegation to Palestine in 2007.
In the context of security coordination, the PA arrested Sa’adat after tricking him into a meeting under false pretenses. With his comrades, he was transferred to Jericho prison, where he was held under U.S. and British guard. Some of the British guards stationed there had actually previously served to guard Irish Republican political prisoners in the North of Ireland prior to this assignment. Those U.S. and British guards moved away in a coordinated fashion to later allow for the Israeli assault and kidnapping.
The event also included a presentation from a representative of the campaign to free Georges Abdallah in Berlin, who spoke about the challenges facing Palestinian organizing in Germany as well as the work being done to publicize Abdallah’s case and highlight why it is so important as the case of a prisoner of the Palestinian struggle in Europe. He also spoke about the importance of solidarity between struggles against repression, noting the Turkish and Kurdish political prisoners who have been jailed in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
The representative of ATIK, the Confederation of Workers from Turkey in Europe, spoke about their support for Georges Abdallah as well as the mutual solidarity they have received for these imprisoned activists. She noted that despite 34 years in prison, Abdallah continues to express his support for other political prisoners and work to demand their freedom. She also noted several of the cases of imprisoned Turkish and Kurdish activists who have been targeted for their role in organizing the community and supporting progressive causes in Turkey.
Another activist involved in the campaign to free Mumia Abu-Jamal spoke about updates in the important case of the Black Liberation activist and journalist in Philadelphia who has also been imprisoned for over 34 years. There have been recent critical developments in the case, including a legal victory pointing towards the restoration of Abu Jamal’s appeal rights and the sudden discovery of six boxes of previously undisclosed evidence by the prosecutor’s office in Philadelphia. She reviewed the case and emphasized the need to connect across struggles to share solidarity, noting that Mumia himself has produced a number of articles and audio statements about Palestine and is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, leading to his case being known among Palestinians internationally.
The presentations were followed by a lively discussion about the need for greater unity in the movement and the challenges faced in resisting repression in Germany and elsewhere. The event was attended and supported by activists and members of a number of organizations, including the Hirak Shebabi youth movement, the Democratic Palestine Committees, BDS Berlin, ATIK, FOR-Palestine and the Communist Party of Spain in addition to the Campaign to Free Georges Abdallah, the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat, Coup Pour Coup 31, the Free Mumia campaign and Samidoun, among others.
Coup Pour Coup statement in English:
We begin by warmly thanking the comrades of Samidoun and the Palestinian community of Berlin for this invitation. For us, it is very important to develop international solidarity, especially when it comes to fighting for Palestinian prisoners and Georges Abdallah.
We would also like to extend the warmest greetings from Georges Abdallah to this event, which he had the opportunity to share with us during our last visit with him in prison.
For 2 years, our anti-imperialist collective Coup Pour Coup 31 (based in Toulouse in the South of France) has joined Samidoun, the solidarity network with Palestinian prisoners. Our desire was to intensify our struggle and support for progressive and revolutionary Palestinian prisoners, at the forefront of the struggle against Zionism. To us, supporting Palestinian Prisoners also means supporting the only fighter for Palestine who is in French imperialist prisons, Georges Abdallah!
Georges Abdallah is a political prisoner. Arrested in 1984 and sentenced to life in 198, following various political maneuvers, accused of complicity in the assassination of a Mossad and a CIA official on French territory. These were actions claimed by his organization, the Lebanese Revolutionary Armed Fraction. He has been eligible for release since 1999, but the French state refuses to release him. The US and Israel put pressure in this direction, and it is the successive French governments that keep him in prison, through various mechanisms. The French secret services are also involved in this ongoing process.
Recently, Lebanese President Michel Aoun has declared his desire to release Georges Abdallah during French President Macron’s visit to Lebanon. A few weeks ago, Lebanon’s ambassador to France visited Georges Abdallah in prison. These are obviously positive signs that come as results of the international campaign and in particular the campaign in Lebanon. But only the intensification of the international campaign will free him. It is more than ever urgent to mobilize to compel the French state to do so.
Georges Abdallah is an Arab communist. From his time in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, where he became politicized in the 1970s, Georges Abdallah never stopped fighting capitalism. This fighter has always affirmed his communist commitment, without ever denying it or denouncing his comrades. He still stands today alongside peoples struggling against imperialism, Zionism and reactionary regimes, as well as alongside proletarians in imperialist centers fighting for their liberation.
He regularly makes statements of support for revolutionary political prisoners throughout the world, particularly in Morocco, Turkey, the Philippines … He has of course supported the various hunger strikes of Palestinian prisoners as well as Turkish prisoners. Recently, he has been supporting prisoners in ATIK, the Confederation of Turkish Workers in Europe, detained in Germany.
Georges Abdallah is a prisoner of the Palestinian Resistance. He joined the ranks of the PFLP and fought Zionist colonization. His struggles, when he was free or once imprisoned, have always been a part of the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Today, he expresses a vision that embodies the only just and lasting solution: a free and democratic Palestine from the sea to the Jordan and the return of all Palestinian refugees.
Since 2009, we have been popularizing in Toulouse, France and elsewhere, the case of Georges Abdallah, his battles of yesterday and today. We continue to visit him regularly and correspond with the comrade behind bars. By fighting for his release, we are building links with Palestine, Lebanon and their freedom fighters. We are proud, for example, to have helped strengthen the ties between Georges Abdallah and the PFLP.
In 2017, we proposed to Georges Abdallah to make a solidarity photo in support of Ahmad Saadat. In return, Ahmad Saadat made several statements in support of Georges. Today we come with an audio statement from George in solidarity with Ahmad Saadat. For us, anti-imperialist campaigners in Europe, it is very necessary to make the connection between Georges Abdallah and Ahmad Saadat. To make this link is to bridge the gap between the Palestinian Revolution and the revolutionary struggle here in Europe. This bridge also brings to light the support of the European imperialist countries for the Zionist entity, a support that we must fight by fighting our own imperialism.
So let’s always continue to build and escalate international solidarity. Intensify the campaigns for the release of Ahmad Saadat, for the release of Georges Abdallah and for the liberation of Palestine, all Palestine, from the river to the sea.