The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rob Mosrie, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (202) 332-0994,
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace (718) 310-8655

Human Rights Groups Ask State Department to Call for Release of Palestinian Nonviolent Activist


Representatives from four US human rights groups met with State Department
officials on Friday, October 22nd, and delivered a letter addressed to Secretary of State Clinton signed by more than 5,000 individuals
calling for the US government to demand that Israel free Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leading Palestinian nonviolent protest organizer. Abu Rahmah, from
the West Bank village of Bil'in, was sentenced on October 11th in Israeli military court to
one year in prison for his part in organizing Bil'in's five-year campaign of
civil disobedience to Israel's construction of a fence and settlements on
village land in violation of international law. Abu Rahmah's conviction has been
denounced by the UK Foreign Office, the EU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B'Tselem and South African anti-apartheid leader Desmond Tutu.

Rob Mosrie, Executive Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation said, "Israel's arrest of non-violent activists like Abdallah Abu Rahmah mocks
President Obama's call in his Cairo speech for Palestinians to use only
nonviolent means to gain their freedom. What kind of message does it send to a community when their nonviolent
leadership is jailed?"

The letter delivered to the State Department and addressed to Hillary
Clinton was signed by 35 organizations and 5,270 individuals and written before
Abdallah Abu Rahmah's October 11th sentencing. The letter noted that in July 2010 in Krakow at a meeting of
the intergovernmental group Community of Democracies, Secretary of State Clinton saluted
"civil society activists around the world who have recently been harassed,
censored, cut off from funding, arrested, prosecuted, even killed," and called
for coordinated international efforts to defend them. The letter to Clinton
continued, "Abdallah Abu Rahmah is one of these activists who, in pursuit of
human rights, has been unjustly imprisoned."

Representatives from Adalah-NY, CODEPINK, Jewish Voice for Peace and the US
Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation stressed to State
Department officials that, in the next two weeks, the Israeli government is
expected to appeal to lengthen Abu Rahmah's one year sentence. Last week, an
Israeli military court extended the sentence for another Bil'in protester, Adeeb
Abu Rahmah, from one year to 18 months in response to an Israeli government

participated in the protest in Bil'in and found Abdallah Abu Rahmah to
be a great leader who emphasized the importance of non-violence," said
Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK. "Charging him and activists in the
neighboring village of Ni'lin with "incitement" and
organizing "illegal protests" effectively outlaw freedom of
expression and peaceful protest."

Human Rights Watch called Abdallah Abu Rahmah's conviction "the unjust result of an unfair
trial," noting that he was convicted of inciting stone throwing based on
statements of arrested children who had no legal representation, said they were
coerced by their Israeli interrogators into making the accusations and retracted
them in court. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem,
all criticized the 1967 Israeli military order 101 under which Abdallah Abu
Rahmah was convicted for its extremely broad definition of incitement -
"attempting to... influence public opinion in the area in a way that may disturb
the public peace or public order" - and its requirement for a permit for any
gathering of 10 people or more listening to a speech or walking for purposes
that can be interpreted as political. Though the Israeli military generally
films the demonstrations in Bil'in, the Israeli military did not present a single piece of video evidence linking Abdallah Abu
Rahmah with incitement or violence.

The Israeli military began the latest wave of protest arrests around
September, 2009, also arresting protest organizers and boycott activists
Mohammad Othman and Jamal Juma'
of the Palestinian organization Stop the Wall. After being held for a period
without access to their lawyers and without charges, both Othman and Juma' were
released three and a half months and four weeks respectively. 20 Palestinians
have been killed in protests against the wall since 2004, including one
individual from Bil'in and five from Ni'ilin. 79 protesters from Bil'in have
been arrested since 2004, and 116 protesters from Ni'ilin have been arrested
since May, 2008.

During protests the Israeli military has killed two US citizens, Rachel
Corrie and Furkan Dogan, and seriously injured two others, Tristan Anderson and
Emily Henochowicz.

CODEPINK is a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs.

(818) 275-7232