- Created: Tuesday, 31 July 2018 15:12
- Written by Bob Shepherd
Georges Ibrahim Abdallah is the longest serving political prisoner in Europe, approaching his 35th year in prison; for comparison, Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years. Abdallah was arrested in Lyon, France on 24 October 1984 and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 for the assassinations of a US military attaché and an Israeli diplomat in Paris in January and April 1982. Georges is a Lebanese revolutionary communist who has dedicated his life to the struggle against imperialism and Zionism, becoming a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) before in 1979 helping form the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions (LARF) which claimed the two assassinations.
At his original trial in 1986 Georges could only be charged with possession of 'fake travel documents' as there was no evidence linking him with the assassinations. He was given a four-year sentence. Then in early 1987 he was brought back to court and charged with the murders after the state had supposedly found new evidence which had not been previously mentioned and which his defence said had been clearly planted to gain a conviction. After this rigged trial Georges was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment. During the trial he declared: 'I am a fighter, not a criminal...The path I have followed has been imposed on me by the human rights abuses perpetrated against the Palestinians'. Georges’ political development had taken place in a Lebanon that had suffered a devastating civil war fuelled by imperialism and Zionism, with Palestinian refugees and their progressive national liberation movement among the main targets. Thousands of Palestinians and poor Lebanese lost their lives during this period.
Georges has been eligible for parole since 1999 but the repeated applications he has made since then have all been refused. This is entirely politically motivated and consistent with the underhand and anti-democratic actions of the French state during Georges’ trial. In 2001 one of his 'defence lawyers' admitted that he had been working as a spy for the French state throughout the trial!
In November 2012 the French parole board agreed to Georges’ release on condition he was deported to Lebanon. The US government made it clear to the French authorities that it opposed this. As secretary of state in January 2013, Hillary Clinton personally called French foreign minister Laurent Fabius to urge the French authorities to find a way to overturn the judicial decision, telling him ‘Although the French government has no legal authority to overturn the court of appeal’s January 10 decision, we hope French officials might find another basis to challenge the decision’s legality.’
This grant of parole was eventually annulled by a higher court. Georges’ was subsequently denied parole again in 2015 and remains behind bars to this day.
The vindictive actions of the French state against Georges are in stark contrast to its attitude to Israeli agents assassinating Palestinian diplomats in Paris. In 1983, shortly after the assassination carried out by the LARF, Israeli agents killed Mahmoud Hamchari, a PLO representative in Paris. No one was ever arrested.
Even though Georges has been incarcerated for such a length of time he remains a committed revolutionary. In a message sent to a solidarity demonstration calling for his release in Paris on 23 June he said:
'Certainly comrades, it is not by looking here and there for judicial tricks that we manage to face the criminal persecution of “the capital of capital” to which the resistance is held in captivity, but rather in affirming unswerving determination in the struggle against their moribund, criminal system. We all know that, in the end, it is according to the balance of power that we can succeed in tearing our comrades from the clutches of the enemy. The latter only agrees to let go when he realises that keeping these revolutionary fighters in captivity carries a greater weight in the process of the ongoing struggle than the threat inherent in their release. It is not a matter of pretending that we do not know that justice is always a class justice in the service of a class policy inscribed in the global dynamics of a class war, nationally and internationally.'
Free Georges Abdallah!