27 August 2009
Bil’in village, West Bank: Former US president Jimmy Carter, Mrs. Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa visited the site of the Apartheid Wall on the land of the village of Bil’in.
The Carters and Archbishop Tutu came to Bil’in together with their colleagues from The “Elders” delegation, former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Norwegian prime minister Gro Brundtland, former Irish president and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Indian human rights activist Ela Bhatt, and renowned businessmen Richard Branson and Jeff Skoll.
Former president Carter pointed to the land on the other side of the wall where the settlement of Modi’in Illit is being built: “This is not Israel; this is Palestine and settlements must be removed from Palestinian land so that justice will be restored in the area.”
Desmond Tutu encouraged the Palestinian activists: “ Just as a simple man named Ghandi led the successful non-violent struggle in India and simple people such as Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela led the struggle for civil rights in the United States, simple people here in Bil’in are leading a non-violent struggle that will bring them their freedom. The South Africa experience proves that injustice can be dismantled.”
The “Elders” placed symbolic stones on the monument commemorating Bassem Abu Rahme, a non-violent activist who was shot dead on the 17th April 2009 while attempting to speak with Israeli soldiers during a non-violent demonstration. (A video can be seen on http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/6185)
The Bil’in popular committee and their friends including Luisa Morgantini, the former vice president of the European Parliament, and Israeli activists welcomed the delegation and invited them to participate in Bil’in’s annual conference for non-violent popular resistance. The delegation met Raja Abu Rahme, the daughter of Adib Abu Rahme, a leading non-violent activist from Bil’in. Adib was arrested on 10th July during a non-violent demonstration and is being held in Ofer military prison (see: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/07/7652). Raja told them about her father’s arrest and about the night raid arrests that the Israeli military began in Bil’in on 23rd June 2009.
Bil’in will be holding its weekly demonstration tomorrow, on Friday, the 28th August at 1:00 PM. 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 and 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.