U.S. national anti-war assembly calls for freedom for Ahmad Sa’adat and Palestinian prisoners

589The July 10-12, 2009 national conference of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations unanimously approved a historic resolution in support of freedom for Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners.

Over 250 anti-war and progressive activists attended the conference in Pittsburgh, PA, representing dozens of organizations and groups across the country. The National Assembly includes trade unionists, veterans, students, local antiwar coalitions, women’s organizations, national leaders of the major antiwar coalitions, immigrant rights activists, racial justice activists and organizations, and many others.

Monadel Herzallah, a Palestinian organizer, president of the Arab American Union Members’ Council and national coordinator of the US Palestine Community Network – Popular Conference presented the resolution at the conference, where he spoke at the major Saturday evening panel.

In his presentation, he called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel and called for trade unions, churches, universities, cultural centers and other institutions to cut all ties with Israel and Israeli entities, emphasizing the importance of antiwar activists engaging in a full campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. He also spoke about the need to confront racism and oppression facing the Palestinian and Arab communities and other racially and nationally oppressed communities within the U.S. He concluded by stressing the need to support Palestinian political prisoners, highlighting the growing campaign of solidarity with Ahmad Sa’adat and all prisoners. He discussed Sa’adat’s hunger strike against prison repression and leadership in the Palestinian national movement, as well as the direct involvement and responsibility of the U.S. for the imprisonment of Sa’adat.
Ahmad Sa’adat is the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. A Palestinian national leader, he is one of 39 Palestinian Legislative Council members and government ministers imprisoned by Israel, and one of thousands of Palestinian activists, students, workers, trade unionists, men, women and children held in the prisons and detention centers of the occupier. He was imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority since 2002 under U.S. and British guard before being kidnapped in an Israeli military raid on the PA prison where he was held. He has since been sentenced to 30 years in prison for his political activity and has remained a strong leader of the prisoners’ movement as well as a national and international symbol of the Palestinian struggle for justice and freedom.
The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat congratulates the National Assembly for its important resolution, that passed with the unanimous approval of the delegates. Only one other resolution passed with such unanimous support – a resolution to condemn the military coup in Honduras and stand in solidarity with the Honduran people against the coup and U.S. imperialism. We welcome such resolutions from organizations around the world. Please send your resolutions and statements in solidarity with Ahmad Sa’adat to the Campaign at campaign@freeahmadsaadat.org.
The full text of the resolution is below:
for the National Assembly National Conference, July 10-12, 2009
WHEREAS,  Israel currently holds over 11,000 Palestinians as political prisoners, including men, women and children, and one out of every four Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza has been subject to political arrest or detention, including 40% of Palestinian men from the West Bank and Gaza, and

WHEREAS, the arrest, detention and imprisonment of Palestinians is directed by a series of over 1500 Israeli military regulations that can be changed at any time by the regional military commander, and Palestinians arrested by the Israeli military are often relocated to Israeli military prisons outside the West Bank and Gaza, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and as the Israeli military continues to abduct Palestinians on a daily basis and imprison them in these military prisons, and

WHEREAS, Palestinians abducted by the Israeli military are subject to psychological and physical torture and abuse, especially during the period of interrogation, which can last for up to 180 days, including up to sixty days in which a Palestinian prisoner may not be seen by an attorney, and

WHEREAS, over half of all Palestinian political prisoners and detainees have not been tried, and

WHEREAS, nearly one thousand Palestinians are held in “administrative detention,” a system of detention without charge or trial, that is indefinitely extensible for successive six-month periods, confronted only by secret evidence that is impossible to refute, and
WHEREAS, those Palestinian detainees that are tried are brought before an Israeli military court, in which Palestinians’ rights to a fair trial are systematically violated, presided over by three judges, only one of which is required to have any legal training, and
WHEREAS, the Israeli military courts exist only as a function of the illegal military occupation, and thus can never provide a legitimate or fair trial to Palestinian political prisoners, and
WHEREAS, Palestinian national leaders, including Ahmad Sa’adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Marwan Barghouti, and 37 other members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, are systematically targeted for political arrest and imprisonment, and
WHEREAS, the most basic of political activities, including simply being a member of most Palestinian political parties, are sufficient to serve as “charges” against Palestinian political prisoners and are met with substantial sentences, and
WHEREAS, Ahmad Sa’adat and five other Palestinian political prisoners were arrested by the Palestinian Authority in 2002, and were transferred to Jericho Prison under U.S. and British guard as a condition of a settlement between then PA President Yasser Arafat and Israel in May 2002, and
WHEREAS, during his time in PA prison, Sa’adat was never charged with any crime nor tried for any offense; his release was ordered by the Palestinian High Court, and supported by numerous international organizations, including Amnesty International, and
WHEREAS, on March 14, 2006, the U.S. and British monitors at Jericho Prison left their posts, shortly before the inception of a ten-hour siege of the prison by the Israeli military that ended in the death of two Palestinians, the injury of twenty-three more, and the abduction of Ahmad Sa’adat and five other political prisoners from Jericho to Israeli military prisons, and


WHEREAS, Ahmad Sa’adat was sentenced by an illegitimate military court to 30 years in prison for 19 political offenses, including membership in a prohibited organization, holding a post in a prohibited organization, and incitement, for giving a speech after the Israeli assassination of his predecessor, Abu Ali Mustafa, in 2001, and

WHEREAS, Ahmad Sa’adat and his attorneys consistently refuse and refused throughout his trial to recognize the authority of a military court that is an instrument of occupation, and
WHEREAS, political imprisonment has been one part of a deliberate strategy to deprive Palestinians of their leaders, educators, writers, journalists, clergy, unionists, and popular activists from all political orientations, as part of the dispossession and repression of the Palestinian Arab people in the interests of colonialism and occupation for over sixty years, including the denial of millions of Palestinian refugees’ right to return home, and
WHEREAS, as Ahmad Sa’adat said in his statement to the court of January 14, 2007, ” This trial cannot be separated from the process of the historical struggle in Palestine that continues today between the Zionist Movement and the Palestinian people, a struggle that centers on Palestinian land, history, civilization, culture and identity,” and
WHEREAS, Ahmad Sa’adat has been a leader among Palestinian prisoners and recently completed a nine-day hunger strike against Israeli policies of isolation and solitary confinement against Palestinian prisoners, and is currently in isolation until September 17, has faced serious health problems, and has been denied family visits from his wife for months and from his children for years, and
WHEREAS, the United States government bears direct responsibility for the situation of Ahmad Sa’adat, and oversaw his imprisonment in PA prison for four years and was complicit in his abduction and kidnapping by the Israeli military during its attack on Jericho prison, and
WHEREAS, there is an international campaign to free Ahmad Sa’adat, and all Palestinian political prisoners, and as the National Assembly has a history of supporting struggles for justice and freedom, and
WHEREAS, the political imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians is made possible by the billions of dollars in economic and military support as well as the vast political and diplomatic support given to Israel by the United States,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations calls for the immediate freedom of Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian political prisoners and detainees, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Assembly shall actively support the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat and all campaigns to free all Palestinian political prisoners and detainees, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Assembly shall endeavor to issue statements and publicize the cases of Palestinian political prisoners and detainees, and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the National Assembly shall endeavor to support the struggles and organizing of Palestinian political prisoners, and the work of activists and organizations on the ground working for justice and freedom for Palestinian political prisoners and the cause of freedom for which these thousands of prisoners are held – of self-determination, liberation and return for all Palestinians in exile and in all of historic Palestine