Amnesty: Israeli Detention of Palestinian Activists Must End
by MainStreet, Mon Jan 11, 2010 at 09:55:50 AM EST
Amnesty International recently condemned these arrests/imprisonments which take place without charge.
The Israeli authorities must immediately release, or bring before a fair trial, three Palestinian human rights activists detained in Israel following their protests against the construction of the West Bank fence/wall, Amnesty International said on Friday.
In a letter sent to Ehud Barak, Israeli Defence and Deputy Prime Minister on Thursday, Amnesty International expressed concern that Jamal Juma', Abdallah Abu Rahmah and Mohammed Othman were prisoners of conscience, held for legitimately voicing their opposition to the fence/wall.
"These men have all been involved in campaigning against the building of this construction, much of it on the land of the occupied West Bank, and we fear that this is the real reason for their imprisonment," said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme. "If this is the case they must be released immediately and unconditionally."
Jamal Juma' is the co-ordinator of the "Stop the Wall" campaign and a prominent human rights activist. He was arrested by the Israeli authorities on 16 December 2009. He has not been formally charged with any offence since his detention and information relating to his arrest has not been shared with his lawyer.
Abdallah Abu Rahmah, head of the "Popular Committee Against the Wall" in the village of Bil'in, was arrested on 10 December 2009. He has been charged with three offences: incitement, stone-throwing, and possession of arms.
Amnesty International said it understands the possession of arms charge relates to Abdallah Abu Rahmah collecting used M16 bullets, and empty sound and gas grenades, employed by Israeli forces to disperse demonstrators against the wall, and exhibiting them in Bil'in museum to raise awareness of Israeli practices against protestors.
Mohammed Othman, a volunteer with the "Stop the Wall" campaign, has been detained continuously since 22 September 2009. He was arrested on his return from Norway, after meeting activist groups there campaigning against the fence/wall and is being held without charge or trial in Israeli administrative detention.
On January 9, 2010, the wife of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, Majida, who is a school teacher, wrote a “message” to Americans, which was frontpaged by Huffington Post (thank you Ariana for not being deceived during your recent trip to Israel). It was called, <b>A Message of Non-Violent Resistance From Within Israeli Prison</b>.
(Does anyone recall the arrest and jailing of Martin Luther King?)
On Tuesday, January 5, I attended the trial of my husband Abdallah Abu Rahmah in an Israeli military detention camp. Ofer Military Base is a dark and dehumanizing place, but I was happy to go there because it meant that I would finally see my husband.
I joined my friend Fatima, wife of Adib Abu Rahmah in the crowd of families waiting outside the gates of the base hoping to be admitted. Fatima's husband is another committed nonviolent activist from Bil'in who, like my husband, is being accused of incitement, that is, of encouraging demonstrations against the Wall. Adib and Fatima have nine children. He has been in detention for over six months now.
Diplomats from the US, Germany, Sweden and Spain who know Abdallah also came to support him.
Just one month ago these diplomats had visited Abdullah in Bil'in and had seen for themselves how Israeli settlements and the Apartheid Wall have stolen over 50% of our village's land. They promised then that they would do what they could to help our popular struggle and here they were, true to their word. The Spanish consul who represents the new president of the European union tried to shake Abdullah's hand but the soldiers wouldn't let him.
I recall videoed scenes of the weekly protests in Bil'in, West Bank. The violence of the Israeli soldiers is reminiscent of the gas and water cannons used by southern policeman and state troopers to stop segregation protests in the US. Eerie.