By: Bassam Alkantar
Published Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Yesterday, Lebanese prisoner Georges Abdallah turned 62 inside the French Lannemezan Prison, but there was no birthday cake or celebration. Abdallah, the longest serving political prisoner in a European prison, spent the day on a hunger strike in solidarity with Basque prisoners protesting the death of Xabier Lopez Peña on Saturday.
On 24 October 2012, Abdallah marked his 30th year in prison. A high-ranking Lebanese diplomatic source told Al-Akhbar that Lebanese President Michel Suleiman was promised by his French counterpart François Hollande that Abdallah “would be released soon.”
A report submitted by Natour about the meetings he held in Paris to discuss Abdallah’s case stated: “France repeated its request not to organize an official reception for Abdallah at the Beirut Airport so as not to embarrass it vis-à-vis its allies.”
The Abdallah family no longer believes the promises of the French government, which has repeatedly postponed Georges’ release.
On 21 November 2012, the Sentence Enforcement Chamber of Paris (TAP) agreed to the 8th request for Abdallah’s release, but the ruling was suspended after two appeals were filed by the French justice ministry.
After several more delays, a hearing is expected on April 11.
In Beirut, the sidewalk across from the French embassy turned into a space for celebrating Abdallah’s birthday as a sit-in was organized. Abdallah’s family and friends called for his freedom as they cut a birthday cake adorned with his picture.
Yousef al-Bassam, speaking on behalf of youth organizations, announced the continuation of the daily sit-ins to condemn the French government’s decision to keep Abdallah under arbitrary detention.