The dates 15-29 January 2020 were the fortnight for demanding the release of Ahmad Saadat, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, from the Israeli prison and of Georges Abdallah, Lebanese revolutionary who fought for Palestine, from the French dungeon where he has been languishing for 36 years. Today, on the 29th, we publish an article by our comrade Sungur Savran, chairman of DIP, which addresses in particular the actors of the revolutions that have been rocking the Middle East and North Africa, but in particular the revolutionaries of Lebanon, of whom Georges Abdallah is a revolutionary compatriot.
2020 opened with the escape of Carlos Ghosn from house arrest in Japan. For those who do not know who Ghosn is, he is a Lebanese-Brazilian-French representative of the international capitalist class, who ran the joint interests of three different automotive brands, the French Renault and the Japanese Nissan and Mitsubishi, in an alliance, estimated in 2017 to be the largest automotive group in the world, of which he was both CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors until recently. He was under investigation for gross tax evasion crimes and misuse of company assets for personal gain, first in Japan, later in his home country of France. He was arrested pending trial by Japanese authorities in November 2018, but released on bail in spring 2019, to be put under house arrest. The French authorities resisted for months any accusations against him, but finally in June last year he was charged with advancing questionable expenses to the amount of… 11 million euros. Common sense dictates any sane person to call the guy a swindler and a crook, who has robbed not only companies (that is a matter among capitalists) but also taxpayers by millions of dollars and euros! One estimate of the cost of his tax evasion for the years 2011-2015 was 38 million euros! Lest this surprise the reader, let us also point out that this capitalist “genius”, leading three major companies at once, was making, when last counted in 2017, around 13 million euros per year. Which comes to 35 thousand euros per day, even when days off are counted as well as week days!
The moment he was arrested by the Japanese authorities coincided, significantly, with the very beginnings of the Yellow Vests movement in France, his adopted home country. The movement first set foot on the streets of France on 17th October 2018 and Ghosn was arrested in Japan on the 19th November, barely a month later. The irony was that the Macron government was trying to squeeze the French proletariat and the poorer strata of the petty-bourgeoisie of their last “sous”, all the while turning the other way when Ghosn and his likes (and how many of them!) were evading and avoiding taxes thanks to the services of “respectable” accounting firms whose most lucrative job always comes from their specialisation in providing these agents of capital and other crooks to steal a part of the money that is always lacking for social services.
In an article (in Turkish) written at the beginning of December 2018, we pointed out the irony of the pillaging of the last eurocents of the poorer strata of the French population for the sake of the environment even as this was happening and even, also, as all automotive companies were cheating public authorities on the measurement of the carbon emission levels of their cars, this practice still continuing despite the fact that first Volkswagen, then other companies, including of course Monsieur Ghosn’s empire of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, had all been caught red-handed from 2015 on! To sum up: the car companies contributed to climate change at levels that violated the norms stipulated by law; the top-level managers robbed the public chest; and the proletarians and the petty-bourgeoisie were punished by surtaxes because they had to use their car when they went to work!
We finished, in that same article, the discussion on Monsieur Ghosn by predicting that he would soon go free (https://gercekgazetesi.net/uluslararasi/tatli-su-ekoloji-hareketi-sari-yeleklilere-carpti). It must be admitted that this crook was kept in jail longer than we expected. But, in the end, thanks to that wonderful provision of bourgeois law that demonstrates in naked manner that some are more equal before the law than others, thanks to that legal institution called “bail”, he was released five months later to be put under house arrest. The end of the story is, if you have not heard it yet, a fairy tale for fools. He himself will neither confirm nor deny this, but the media would like us to believe that he escaped from his house arrest in a casing used for a large musical instrument after a gorgeous orchestra performed in his home, in what is supposed to be an ersatz prison. He was taken to the airport, flown off to our magical city of Istanbul and then safely packaged off to his home country, Lebanon. With such a world of magical realism, who needs the great Gabriel García Márquez? Anyone who believes this fairy tale has not understood one bit the nature of class society in general and capitalist society in particular!
Home country Lebanon
So Lebanon has admitted to its maternal bosom its accomplished and illustrious son. Despite the “red notice” issued by Interpol, the country will not return Monsieur Ghosn to Japan. Conveniently, no extradition treaty binds Lebanon to Japan. Turkey probably does, mais vous savez. quand on est riche…
This immediately evokes the memory of that other world-renowned son of Lebanon being kept in prison in a foreign country, dare we say for a bit longer than our daredevil Monsieur Ghosn. Meet Georges Abdallah, who has been languishing in a French prison for a full 36 years now! No bail, no house arrest, no musical parties at home nor musical instrument casings, no welcome from Lebanon. 36 years in jail! In France, “pays de la liberté”!
And what might his crime be? Tax evasion to the level of millions of euros depriving the poor masses and his fellow Arab immigrants of social services? Abominable abuse of funds that do not belong to him in any moral or legal context? Obviously not! Had he been that, he would have been released on bail or on other grounds some 35 years ago! If, that is, the example of Carlos Ghosn, his compatriot, is any precedent to go by.
No, Georges Abdallah is a revolutionary, unrepentant to this day, who rightly was trying to unite class struggle with the fight for the liberation of the oppressed. Being a son of Lebanon, home to a lot of Palestinian refugees and neighbouring the historic territory of Palestine, he naturally took an interest in the struggle for liberation of this people, symbol par excellence of national oppression imposed by that most racist of ideologies Zionism and its imperialist backers, not only the United States, but also countries such as France, which, incidentally, happened to be the ex-colonial power ruling over Lebanon and neighbouring Syria. This was the great sin of Georges Abdallah, to side with the wretched of the earth, if there be any, in his part of the world. He worked with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), fought against Israel and was wounded in combat. In 1984 he was arrested in France for carrying a false passport, a most ordinary thing for a revolutionary of the Middle East, and later charged with participating in the action of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction (Fractions armées révolutionnaires libanaises-FARL) in the killing of the deputy military attaché of the US Embassy in Paris and of the second secretary of the Israeli Embassy in Paris. He was condemned to life imprisonment in 1987 and has been in jail ever since.
The longest serving political prisoner in living memory… but one
Georges Abdallah is almost definitely the political prisoner in the whole world who has served the second longest term in jail in living memory or probably in the modern epoch at large. A simple google search yields the following results for the longest living political prisoner.
A Tibetan political prisoner is declared to be the longest serving one by Voice of America: “Lodoe Gyamtso, also known as Sogkhar Lodoe Gyamtso, had already served a total of 23 years in prison for two previous convictions before receiving the latest 18-year sentence following his arrest while protesting in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa last year.” But the news piece is dated March 2019, so this Tibetan prisoner will surpass Abdallah’s jail term only in 2033! For now, even if he is still in prison, he has only served for 24 years. And with a long break in between.
Human Rights Watch has a different candidate: Murod Juraev of Uzbekistan, “who according to Human Rights Watch is the longest serving political prisoner in the world”,served 21 years from 1994 to 2015. Murod Juraev has now been released. (Source: New Europe)
Wikipedia has still another name: “Chia Thye Poh (born 1941) is a Singaporean former political prisoner. Detained under the Internal Security Act of Singapore for allegedly conducting pro-communist activities against the government, he was imprisoned for 23 years without charge or trial and subsequently placed under conditions of house arrest for another nine years – in which he was first confined to the island of Sentosa and then subject to restrictions on his place of abode, employment, travel, and exercise of political rights.” All in all, this amounts to 32 years, of which 9 under house arrest. (Wikipedia)
The Guinness Book of World Records is closer to the mark: “On 1 May 2009, Nael Barghouthi, a Palestinian national sentenced to life imprisonment, became the longest serving political prisoner ever. He began his time in prison on April 4, 1978 and has now served more than thirty-two years in an Israeli jail.” (Guinness) Given the facts, this one is indeed the longest serving political prisoner of all and, lo and behold, he is a Palestinian, languishing in a prison in Israel, the sole democracy of the Middle East they would have us believe. If we continue reading, we will find out that the previous record belonged to… guess who, another Palestinian! Barghouti is still in prison and has surpassed four decades. “The previous record was held by Said Alatabah, also a Palestinian, who was incarcerated in Israel for 31 years and 26 days. He was released August 2008.”
So the world record, as far as we can gather from among these cases, belongs to a Palestinian. Georges Abdallah is only second in modern times, second only to a political representative of a people for whom he was fighting. 36 years already and running! And this in France, not Uzbekistan, Singapore, China or, for that matter, Israel. France, pays de la liberté! This on its own is reason enough that he should be released.
Ah, but, some may object in their pristine “democratic” dream world: Georges Abdallah is incarcerated for life because he was complicit in the killing of two people. This does not qualify as a “political prisoner”! Is that so cher monsieur ou chère madame? In that case, even if Georges Abdallah was implicated in the killing of the American and Zionist agents, we would like to ask you the following question: might you perhaps be one of those who cherished, along with millions and millions of hypocrites like yourself, the release from prison of Nelson Mandela and his election as president to the South African Republic? If such is the case, could it perhaps have escaped your attention that Mandela was the co-founder of the guerrilla organisation of the African National Congress, the Umkhonto we Sizwe, which killed and sabotaged copiously to bring down the apartheid system in that country? Are you so ignorant of the simple facts or are you simply pretending that you are an idiot?
Free Georges Abdallah and Nael Barghouti… and Ahmad Saadat immediately!
Only one conclusion can be drawn from this picture. It is entirely legitimate to demand the release from prison of Georges Abdallah, who has already served too long in the prisons of France. Add to this the demand for the release from the Israeli prison of Nael Barghouti, the world champion for longest serving political prisoner. But also demand the release from his Israeli prison Ahmad Saadat, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The Zionist state is keeping in prison the leader of one of the most respected and deep-rooted political movements of Palestine. This is inadmissible!
Peoples of the Middle East and North Africa! The liberation of Georges Abdallah and Ahmad Saadat and Nael Barghouti should be one of the priority demands of the revolutionary movements that have been rocking the region, from Sudan to Iraq and from Algeria to Iran. However, the greatest task falls to the Lebanese revolutionary movement.
Comrades of Lebanon, sisters and brothers, raise the voice of the revolution in order to wrest Georges Abdallah, the honourable son of Lebanon from the French dungeon! In a world where crooks and swindlers such as Carlos Ghosn are honoured by the powers that be, it is up to the people of the revolution to honour courageous revolutionaries like Georges Abdallah. He is, like yourselves, a revolutionary!