IJAN’s 5th Anniversary Event in Oakland

A standing room only crowd of approximately 150 in Oakland, California attended IJAN’s 5th anniversary celebration there to hear spokespeople from several grassroots organizations talk about their understanding and experience of Joint Struggle. While Joint Struggle was the focus of the meeting, the backdrop was lessons from the prisoner hunger strikes around the world including in Palestine, Guantanamo Bay and the recently-suspended prisoners’ hunger strike in California of some 30,000 inmates many of whom are in solitary confinement.  As one speaker noted, with the California prisoner statement on ending racial hostilities,”they have organized us!”

Sara Kershnar from IJAN said in the introduction that Joint Struggle “reflects how we aim to organize and what our commitments are.” Speaker after speaker made it clear that too often solidarity has been either lip-service or pity, not actually working on the basis that struggles of others for justice and self-determination are “inextricably linked” and integral to our own, starting with prisoners around the globe.

The groups who spoke from the platform included the Palestinian Youth Movement, All of Us or None, the California Coalition of Women Prisoners, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the Haiti International Solidarity Committee, and the Global Women’s Strike. It is important to point out that at least two of the speakers were formerly incarcerated people themselves, who have come out the other end, more determined than ever to tear down all the walls that separate us.