By Matt Richardson
On Saturday, December 14, approximately 30 people defied a bitterly cold and snowy day in New York City to protest for the freedom of political prisoners in the Middle East and North Africa and against the Assad regime’s murderous sieges that are denying food and medicine to millions of Syrians.
The protest was the first action called by the MENA Solidarity Network and followed its highly successful Teach-In on the Syrian revolution that took place last month (for videos of the conference and more information about the Network,visitwww.menasolnetus.wordpress.comor www.facebook.com/MENASolidarityUS.) The Network brought many placards featuring the pictures of political prisoners from Syria, Bahrain, Egypt, Palestine and Iran, with slogans demanding their freedom in English, Arabic and Farsi. There were also other large signs with color photographs of recent protests in Syria led by women and children demanding an end to the Assad regime’s murderous blockades of Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp and other areas. The Syrian American Council also sponsored the protest and a contingent of its supporters braved the harsh conditions to protest outside the United Nations before joining the MENA Solidarity Network which had gathered outside the Syrian Mission to the United Nations a few blocs away. They too brought large,colorful signs calling for solidarity with the Syrian people and an end to Assad’s regime.
The strong winds and snow on this freezing day forced the protest to abandon its plan to march to the Bahraini, Egyptian and Iranian missions. Instead protesters stayed at the assembly point, marching and chanting for the freedom of political prisoners in all the countries in the region. Video and photos of the protest can be seen here:www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-iy988T4jg.After the protest, organizers and activists gathered to discuss ideas for future solidarity events. The MENA Solidarity Network encourages people to contact it via facebook at www.facebook.com/MENASolidarityUSand on the web at:www.menasolnetus.wordpress.com.Special thanks to MENA Solidarity Network activists, supporters and friends Andrew Pollack, Yusef Khalil, Joanne Landy, Yasmine Kamel, Ella Wind, Noha Bint Tahrir Arafa, Omar El Shafei, Zhaleh Sahand, Petrino DiLeo, Ann B and Jim for efforts in organizing the protest, composing biographies of prisoners, translating slogans, designing publicity flyers, making placards and other work.