Protests Mount Against France to Free Georges Abdallah
Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / LAURENT DARD. don Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrénées, FRANCE (AFP)

Protests Mount Against France to Free Georges Abdallah

As Lebanese political prisoner Georges Abdallah enters his 30th year in French prison, a UN human rights committee is expected issue a report on his illegal detention in early November.

In January 2013, French authorities decided to continue the detention of Georges Abdallah by refusing to deport him to Lebanon, even though he had served out his sentence and was legally freed by a court of law.

This prompted the International Committee to Free Georges Abdallah to lodge a complaint at the United Nations in front of a team of experts concerned with arbitrary detentions, which is expected to make its report public, after having sent it to the French authorities in mid-October.

The UN committee designates a person under arbitrary detention when it is no longer possible for the authorities to present any legal justification for their continued detention. Ironically, the UN team concerned with arbitrary detention was set up in 1991 at the he behest of France, which headed the committee for the first seven years.

The completion of the UN report coincided with Abdallah crossing the 30-year mark in French prison, leading the political prisoner’s supporters in France and around the world to mark the date with protests against Paris.

Last week, several hundred French solidarity activists held a protest outside Lannemezan Prison where Abdallah is being held, with signs calling for the Lebanese prisoner’s freedom. Another group of activists tried to occupy the local offices of the ruling Socialist party in solidarity with Abdallah.

In Beirut, the International Committee to Free Georges Abdallah held a protest in front of the French embassy, which was locked down, despite the fact that no diplomats were present inside the building at the time.

The protesters declared that since Abdallah was released by a French appeals court on April 4, he has become nothing more than a hostage, illegally held by the Socialist government, which has done all it can to get around an undisputed court order to release him after having completed his sentence.

A number of French parliamentarians had also joined the chorus of protests by sending President Francois Hollande a letter calling for Abdallah’s release “no matter the foreign pressures,” in reference to American efforts to prevent his release.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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