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May 2, 2013 0

Advocate For Palestinian Prisoners On U.S. Tour

sahar-francis-addameer

Sahar Fran­cis

In an effort to gar­ner Amer­i­can atten­tion and sup­port for Pales­tin­ian polit­i­cal pris­on­ers, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Addameer, a Pales­tin­ian NGO based in Ramal­lah, is sched­uled to deliver pre­sen­ta­tions on the topic in sev­eral U.S. cities this month.

Sahar Fran­cis, Addameer’s Gen­eral Direc­tor, will likely address per­ceived issues in the Israeli prison sys­tem for Pales­tin­ian pris­on­ers, but she also seems to be engaged in an effort to analo­gize the Pales­tin­ian pris­oner cause to the way the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem in the U.S. addresses issues of crime in the inner-city.

Francis’s talks will take place in sev­eral cities that have faced trou­bling rises in crime, includ­ing Philadel­phia, Chicago and San Fran­cisco. The titles of the pre­sen­ta­tions, “From Pel­i­can Bay and Guan­tanamo to Pales­tine: Pris­ons, Repres­sion, Resis­tance;” “End­ing Mass Incar­cer­a­tion: From Pales­tine to Penn­syl­va­nia;” and “Juve­nile Injus­tice: Crim­i­nal­iza­tion of Youth in Pales­tine and Chicago,” under­score Francis’s appar­ent goal of link­ing prob­lems in the Amer­i­can prison sys­tem, such as dis­crim­i­na­tion, racial pro­fil­ing and lack of reha­bil­i­ta­tion options, to the issues faced by Pales­tin­ian prisoners.

Spon­sors of the events vary widely and include many groups whose mis­sions seem to be wholly unre­lated to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, such as the Cal­i­for­nia Coali­tion for Women Pris­on­ers, the Black Youth Project in Chicago and the Com­mit­tee to Stop FBI Repres­sion. The diverse num­ber of groups sup­port­ing these events is likely to fur­ther cred­i­bil­ity to Addameer’s intended com­par­i­son between the Pales­tin­ian pris­on­ers’ cause  and prob­lems in the inner-city.

Sev­eral of the other sched­uled speak­ers work on social jus­tice issues related to undoc­u­mented stu­dents and immi­grant rights. At the Philadel­phia event, for exam­ple, the other speaker is a mem­ber of Drea­mAc­tivist PA, a youth orga­ni­za­tion that advo­cates for immigrants.

Fran­cis has been out­spo­ken about the Israeli government’s treat­ment of Pales­tin­ian pris­on­ers. In a 2010 inter­view with Elec­tronic Intifada, she asserted that Israel tries to demo­nize Pales­tin­ian resisters by describ­ing them as “ter­ror­ists” but that “cit­i­zens should be aware that Pales­tin­ian polit­i­cal pris­on­ers are not terrorists.”

She also alleged that “tor­ture, ill treat­ment and abuse” are norms of the Israeli prison sys­tem, and that Israel’s “pol­icy of impris­on­ment” is aimed at sup­press­ing non­vi­o­lent resis­tance like the Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions cam­paigns against Israel. In her talks, Fran­cis urges her audi­ence to call for the uncon­di­tional release of all Pales­tin­ian polit­i­cal pris­on­ers despite the fact that many of these pris­on­ers have been con­victed of vio­lent crimes against Israeli civilians.

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