Imprisoned in France for 38 Years: Freedom for Georges Abdallah

A campaign asking for the release of Georges Abdallah, a Lebanese political prisoner, imprisoned in France since 1984. (Photo: via Chronique Palestine)

By Claude Zurbach

On October 25, 2021, Georges Ibrahim Abdallah started his 38th year in Lannemezan prison. He remains one of the longest-serving political prisoners in the world. All this is happening in France, in the so-called “land of human rights”.

Revolutionary activist, Georges Abdallah, who continues to be largely ignored by the Western media, has been illegally sentenced to life imprisonment and he has been serving his sentence for almost four decades now. The French authorities continue to keep him behind bars, even though he should have been released from prison more than 20 years ago.

But who is Georges Ibrahim Abdallah?

This Lebanese activist, raised in a Christian family in Kobayat in northern Lebanon, is now 70 years old. In 1979, he was the co-founder of the “Lebanese Revolutionary Armed Factions” [FARL], a small Marxist anti-imperialist group which claimed responsibility for two political murders: the assassination of American military attaché, Charles Ray, in Paris, on January 18, 1982, and the killing of Israeli diplomat Yacov Barsimentov, in Boulogne-Billancourt, on April 3, 1982, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Before joining the FARL, Georges Ibrahim Abdallah started his militancy as a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SNSP) and, later on, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Georges Ibrahim was arrested in Lyon on October 24, 1984. The only charge against him was the possession of false identity documents, for which he was first convicted.

It is worth recalling that Lebanon, at the time, was occupied by the Israeli army following the destructive invasion in 1982, aimed at driving Palestinian resistance fighters out of the country. The invasion ended in Beirut, with the massacres committed by the Israeli auxiliary militias in the Sabra and Shatila camps.

During his trial in Lyon in 1987, Abdallah, a former teacher, was found guilty of complicity in the political murders committed by the FARL. He declared before his judges: “I am a fighter, not a criminal”, adding: “The path I followed was imposed on me by the human rights abuses perpetrated against the Palestinians”.

The decision to sentence Georges Abdallah to life imprisonment in 1987, in a controversial hearing, remains a permanent stain on France’s legal system.

The trial was marked by numerous irregularities, especially as one of Abdallah’s lawyers was actually used to spy on him. As for the so-called evidence against Abdallah, it was fabricated retroactively by French, American and Israeli intelligence services.

As the representative of the Collectif pour la Libération de Georges Ibrahim Abdallah [CLGIA] told Chronique Palestine in March 2018:

“Georges Abdallah was first tried on charges of possessing weapons and explosives and sentenced to four years in prison. For the US, however, this sentence was too lenient. Therefore, President Reagan spoke to French President, François Mitterrand.

“Then, the French intelligence services conveniently “discovered” weapons that allowed them to open a new trial against Georges Abdallah. In 1987, the Attorney General, who represented the prosecution, required a ten-year sentence.

“But this was not enough for the French state and its US and Israeli allies: as a result of heavy pressure, an exceptional court eventually condemned him to life imprisonment.

“It was also proven that Georges Abdallah’s first lawyer, Jean-Paul Mazurier, was an agent from the French services. However, the validity of the trial has not been questioned …”

The aggressive policies against Lebanon – carried out by European countries, in general, and by American-Zionists, in particular – contributed to the implementation of the so-called “special operations”, which mostly targeted Palestinian organizations.

The individuals who were labeled as “terrorists” were actually trying to fulfill their rights as human beings. Abdallah’s case is one of legitimate national resistance.

Throughout the years, the United States has systematically opposed Abdallah’s release, even conditional, under the pretext that he would constitute “a threat to the stability of Lebanon”. Each time, they obtained endorsement from the French authorities.

Among others, Christiane Taubira and Manuel Valls, Minister of Justice and Minister of the Interior, respectively, in François Hollande’s government, have always chosen to obey the American and Israeli diktats.

In a blatant case of double standards, France has regularly been considered a hunting ground for Mossad and its killing teams, to whom total impunity has always been granted.

For example, Mahmoud Hamchari, the first official representative of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), was assassinated in Paris by the Israeli secret services on January 9, 1973.

Similarly, the head of the PLO security services Atef Bseiso was assassinated in Paris on June 7, 1992. In this case, the information needed to kill him was, very likely, leaked by the French secret services.

None of these murders has been officially solved, nor has it led to any official French reaction. Of course, the two investigations did not lead to any prosecution.

So why such a relentless pursuit of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah?

In this case, only the US became a civil party, as the Zionist state has been amply represented by the successive French and American governments.

The FARL attacked imperialism, and the continued imprisonment of George Abdallah can, therefore, be considered state revenge.

Abdallah is a Marxist activist and his first struggle was dedicated to the liberation of Palestine. He has always strongly claimed his political identity throughout his 37 years in prison.

Justice reproaches him for not repenting, but Abdallah is a freedom fighter who takes responsibility for his political choices, whatever the price.

The life imprisonment of Abdallah illustrates France’s submission to the US and Israeli diktats. In the deleterious political climate of today’s France, where racism and inequalities proliferate, which leader will dare to take steps to remedy this injustice by allowing Abdallah to leave prison as soon as possible and, finally, live as a free man?

A larger-scale campaign calling for his release will only be possible at the French and international level – let alone in Lebanon – when all progressive and pro-Palestinian forces, intellectuals, organizations and political parties will start considering George Abdallah’s release as a priority.

Abdallah is our comrade in struggle. Let’s demand his release!

– Claude Zurbach is the editor of Chronique de Palestine, the French version of the Palestine Chronicle website. A computer engineer by profession, he has been involved for many years in solidarity with the Palestinian national movement. His Twitter account is https://twitter.com/ClaudeZurbach

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)

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