Another nonviolent Palestinian leader is jailed by Israel

by Yaniv Reich on December 11, 2009

Another nonviolent Palestinian activist has joined Mohammed Othman in an Israeli jail for the sole crime of organizing demonstrations against the separation wall.

A couple months ago, Abdallah Abu Rahmah of Bi’lin was providing a tour of his village for Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former UN human rights chief Mary Robinson, and several other Elders. He is a leader of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, which organizes the weekly protests across the West Bank against the wall.

From the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (cited on Mondoweiss) :

At exactly 2 AM last night, seven Israeli military jeeps pulled over at Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s residence in the city of Ramallah. Soldiers raided the house and arrested Abu Rahmah from his bed in the presence of his wife and children. Abu Rahmah is a high school teacher in the Latin Patriarchate school in Birzeit near Ramallah and is the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements. A previous raid targeting Abu Rahmah was executed with such exceptional violence on 15 September 2009 that a soldier was subsequently indicted for assault.

Abu Rahmah’s arrest is part of an escalation in Israeli military’s attempts to break the spirit of the people of Bil’in, their popular leadership, and the popular struggle as a whole – aimed at crushing demonstrations against the Wall. Recently, Adv. Gaby Lasky, who represents many of Bil’in’s detainees, was informed by the military prosecution that the army intends to use legal measures as a means of ending the demonstrations.

Following Abu Rahmah’s arrest, Adv. Lasky, stated that “My client’s arrest is another blatant illustration of the Israeli authorities’ application of legal procedures for the political persecution of Bil’in residents. The Bil’in demonstrators are being systemically targeted while it is the State that is in contempt of a High Court of Justice ruling; a ruling which affirmed that the protesters have justice on their side and instructed 2 years ago that the route of the Wall in the area be changed, which has not been implemented to date.”

Since 23 June 2009, 31 residents of Bil’in have been detained by the military. The Army has pursued Popular Committee members in its arrest operation, but all three detained members were released for lack of evidence. In the case of another member, Mohammed Khatib, the court even found some of the presented evidence to be falsified.

In addition to committee members, a leading Bil’in activist, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, who has been detained for over five months, is not suspected of committing any violence, but was indicted with a blanket charge of “incitement”, which was very liberally interpreted in this case to include the organizing of grassroots demonstrations.

To join an effort to call for the immediate release of Mr. Abu Rahmah and other illegally detained, nonviolent Palestinian activists, please see the forms available at Jewish Voice for Peace here.

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