2 September 2010
Ramallah, WEST BANK
A military court of appeal yesterday (1st Sept. 2010) rejected a petition calling for the release of Adeeb Abu Rahmah, a leading activist from the West bank village of Bil’in, imprisoned in Israel’s Ofer military detention centre since 10th July 2009.
The decision comes 8 days after the conviction of another Bil’in activist – Abdallah Abu Rahmah – on very similar charges, was openly criticized by the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton, who said the verdict appeared to be designed to “prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest”.
Adeeb Abu Rahmah, 38, a taxi-driver and father of nine and courageous nonviolent activist (watch video here), was arrested during one of the weekly protests in Bil’in over 11 months ago. An initial decision to release him on condition of avoiding demonstrations was reversed on July 21st 2009 when the military prosecution appealed. A judge ruled he should be kept till the end of proceedings against him.
Eventually sentenced on June 30th 2010, he was convicted of “inciting violence” and “activity against the public order”. These broad military orders are increasingly being used by Israel to criminalize peaceful protest. An additional charge initially made against him for inciting others to throw stones was withdrawn following arguments and evidence put forward by his legal defense.
The appeal rejected yesterday – which had argued that his conviction was incorrect and his sentence too severe – was dismissed by the military judge on the grounds that not enough time had passed since the latest appeal was lodged. Instead he will remain incarcerated until a judge decides whether or not to grant the prosecution’s request that his sentence be increased to two years or more.
Adeeb, like Abdallah Abu Rahmah, is well known as a committed non-violent activist.
Amnesty International amongst others called the Israeli court not to convict him, saying that: “The broad scope of Israeli military orders mean that Adeeb Abu Rahma could be imprisoned solely for legitimately exercizing his right to freedom of expression in opposing Israeli policies in the West Bank.” They added that he should be regarded “as a prisoner of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally.”
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