Take action against suppression of non-violent resistance in Bil’in

Bil’in activist Mohammad Khatib in Montreal. Photo: Valerian Mazataud

Bil’in activist Mohammad Khatib in Montreal. Photo: Valerian Mazataud

At around 3 am on the morning of Monday, August 3, a large military force wearing combat paint and masks invaded the West Bank village of Bil’in. Israeli soldiers raided several homes, arresting two Palestinian children and five Palestinian adults, including Mohammad Khatib of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, and an American national. The home of another member of the Popular Committee was raided, but soldiers could not arrest him because he was not present at home.

Attempts to criminalize the leadership of non-violent protests were curbed in the past with the help of an outpouring of support from people committed to justice from all over the world. Please continue reading for ways you can take action in support or Mohammad and the other people arrested on Monday.

Also arrested were the three brothers Khaled Show gut Abd-Alrazic al-Khateeb (age 23), Mustafa Show gut Abd-Alrazic al-Khateeb (age 18), and Mohammed Show gut Abd-Alrazic al-Khateeb (age 16), Abdullah Ahmad Yassen (age 18), Abdullah Mohammed Ali Yassen (age 16) and Issa Mahmoud Issa Abu Rahma (age 40). This brings to 19 the number of Bil’iner’s currently in custody.

Monday’s raid is another in a series of many that Israeli forces have carried out in Bil’in. Since June 29, 2009 Israeli forces have arrested 25 people, most of whom are under 18 years old. Israeli forces have been using interrogation techniques to pressure the arrested youth to give statements against Bil’in community leaders.

“Mohmmad Khatib and Adib Abu Rahme along with other leaders of the Palestinian popular struggle are being targeted because the mobilize Palestinians to resist non-violently,” stated Abdullah Abu Rahme, coordinator of the popular committee. “The fact is that the Apartheid Wall and the settlements built on Palestinian land are illegal under international law, in the case of our village even the biased Israeli court declared the route illegal. Yet Israel is prosecuting us as criminals because we struggle nonviolently for our freedom.”

What you can do

Attempts to criminalize the leadership of non-violent protests were curbed in the past with the help of an outpouring of support from people committed to justice from all over the world.

1. Write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, your Member of Parliament (find your MP here), Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon and the Embassy of Canada to Israel in Tel Aviv and demand that they condemn Israel for the recent raids on Bil’in and call for the release of Mohammad Khatib, Adib Abu Rahme and all Bil’in prisoners.

A sample letter is included below.

*** Sample letter ***

Dear [Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon, your MP or the Canadian Embassy in Israel],

As a citizen of Canada, I am writing you to demand that you condemn, in the strongest terms, the Israeli government’s latest assault against the people of Bil’in, who for almost five years have conducted a non-violent struggle against the Israeli wall and settlements, illegally built on their lands.

In the early morning hours of August 3, 2009, a large military force wearing combat paint and masks invaded Bil’in. Israeli soldiers raided several homes, arresting two Palestinian children and five Palestinian adults, including Mohammad Khatib of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, who recently visited Canada, as well as an American national. The home of another member of the Popular Committee was raided, but soldiers could not arrest him because he was not present at home.

The Palestinian village of Bil’in has become an international symbol of the Palestine non-violent struggle for their rights. For almost five years, its residents have been continuously struggling against the de facto annexation of more then 50% of their farmlands the construction of the apartheid wall on it. In a celebrated decision, the Israeli Supreme court ruled on the September 4, 2007 that the current route of the wall in Bil’in was illegal and needs to be dismantled; the ruling however has not been implemented.

The resistance of the people of Bil’in is an inspiring example and hope for the Palestinians who are living under terriblely harsh conditions. It is supported by people from all over the world, by Israeli and international human rights organizations and Israeli pacifists, many of whom come to Bil’in to join the demonstrations held every Friday.

Monday’s raid is another in a series of nightly raids that Israeli forces have carried out in Bil’in. Since June 29, 2009, Israeli forces have arrested 25 people, most of whom are under 18, and 19 are currently being held in detention. As well, Basem Abu Rahma, a much beloved young man, was killed at a Bil’in demonstration as he was attempting to speak with the soldiers.

Again I ask you to use your office to persuade the government of Israel to cease its illegal, brutal actions against the people of Bil’in and allow them to live in peace and security. In the short term this should include the immediate release of the individuals arrested on Monday and other non-violent protesters arrested recently in Bil’in.

I look forward to your response on this important issue.

Sincerely,

[Your name and address]

***

2. The Popular Committee of Bil’in is in desperate need for legal funds in order to pay legal fees and bail. Please donate to the Bil’in legal fund by Paypal. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation in the US or Canada contact: bilinlegal@gmail.com.

Background on Bil’in:

The Palestinian village of Bil’in has become an international symbol of the Palestinian popular struggle. For almost 5 years, its residents have been continuously struggling against the de facto annexation of more then 50% of their farmlands the construction of the Apartheid Wall on it. In a celebrated decision, the Israeli Supreme court ruled on the 4 September 2007 that the current route of the wall in Bil’in was illegal and needs to be dismantled; the ruling however has not been implemented. The struggle of the village to liberate its lands and stop the illegal settlements has been internationally recognized and has earned the popular committee in Bil’in 2008 Carl von Ossietzky Medal.

On July 21, 2009, a military judge decided to hold Adeeb Abu Rahma, a leading non-violent activist that was arrested from a demonstration against the barrier that took place in Bil’in village on July 10
(see video here), until the end of proceedings against him. This could mean months or a year in military prison for Adeeb, who is being charged with incitement to violence and rioting. He is the sole provider for his family of nine children, wife and mother.

One demonstrator, Basem Abu Rahma, was killed at a demonstration as he was attempting to speak with the soldiers (see the video here).

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