Hundreds gathered in New York City on Tuesday, 30 January as part of an international day of action to mark the 17th birthday of imprisoned Palestinian teen activist Ahed Tamimi. Over 40 organizations endorsed the large protest, which took place on the Amtrak level of Penn Station, inside the station’s busy commuter hall. Listen to an audio report from WBAI from the demonstration, which interviewed participants from Samidoun, Labor for Palestine, the Neturei Karta, Adalah NY and many others.
Organizers from a large number of groups and movements participated in the event, including Palestine solidarity groups, student organizations, political parties, Palestinian community groups and social justice movements. Political prisoner advocacy organizations like the NYC Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition joined the demonstration to demand freedom for all Palestinian political prisoners – as well as those held in U.S. jails.
Organizations involved in fighting police violence, racism and anti-Black oppression participated in the event, including Shut It Down NYC and People’s Power Assembly as well as Black4Palestine. Participating organizations reflected broad segments of the Palestine solidarity movement, including Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, the NY4Palestine Coalition, NYC Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace NYC, Labor for Palestine and many more, as well as groups like the Committee to Stop FBI Repression and alliances like the International League of People’s Struggle. A number of organizations involved in the Filipino people’s movement, including BAYAN and Anakbayan, joined the action.
“The fight to free Ahed has brought every supporter of Palestine together in a way I’ve never seen. In Palestine itself, under Zionist occupation and siege, everyone routinely sets aside their differences to stand together for the prisoners. Ahed has pushed all of us here to do at least that much. For the first time any of us can remember, every organization that supports Palestine is standing together, in one place, for a common purpose,” said Joe Catron, Samidoun’s US coordinator.
The event followed on previous large NYC protests for Ahed and her fellow Palestinian prisoners and was part of days of action that saw Ahed’s birthday celebrated in dozens of cities spanning the globe.
Just as the protest drew a wide crowd from social justice movements, there were an array of repressive and police agencies surrounding the action, including transit police, the NYPD and even US Army soldiers stationed inside Penn Station. Far-right protesters affiliated with the racist, violent Jewish Defense Leaguestood behind the large group of police, taunting the protesters and holding signs that said “Jail Ahed.”
The event included celebration as well; demonstrators sang “Happy Birthday” to Ahed in both English and Arabic after chanting for Palestine with calls that echoed throughout the busy station.
Events in New York and around the world are continuing to demand freedom for Ahed and her fellow Palestinian prisoners. New Zealand Palestine solidarity organizers are holding a day of action on 3 February, with events also taking place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Antwerp, Belgium. In NYC, on Monday, 5 February, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network will protest at the offices of OUTFRONT Media, the major billboard corporation that censored advertisements demanding Ahed’s freedom.
Endorsers of the action included the following:
Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
American Muslims for Palestine – NJ Chapter
Bayan USA Northeast
CODEPINK: Women For Peace
Committee to Stop FBI Repression — NYC
Existence Is Resistance
Free Mumia Abu Jamal Coalition
Free the Tamimi Women
International Action Center
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
International Socialist Organization
The Jericho Movement
Jersey City Peace Movement
Jewish Voices for Peace – NYC
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Labor for Palestine
National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee
New York Progressive Action Network
NYC Shut It Down: The Grand Central Crew #BlackLivesMatter
NYC Anarchist Black Cross
NYC Solidarity with Palestine
NYC Students for Justice in Palestine
Pakistan USA Freedom Forum
Palestinian American Community Center, NJ USA
Palestinian Youth Movement
Peoples Power Assemblies
RAIA — Researching the American Israeli Alliance
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Socialist Alternative, NYC
Staten Island Progressive Action Network
Students for Justice in Palestine, New School
Students for Justice in Palestine at College of Staten Island
United National Antiwar Coalition
Veterans For Peace, 034 NYC, 021 NJ
Workers World Party
Youth Against Settlements