4 October 2010
Seized in the night. Tortured. Held without trial, then tried in a military court where you have no rights; convicted on the coerced confessions of minors, you are facing a sentence of years in prison. All for organizing peaceful protests against the theft of your land and asserting your democratic rights.
Most of us who believe in human rights and democracy can never imagine being treated in such a way. Yet that is exactly what befell Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a democracy advocate from Bil’in in the Occupied West Bank. His town is known around the world for the determination of its residents – joined by Israelis and internationals in solidarity – to protest weekly against the theft of their land by Israeli authorities.
In Abdallah’s case, the charges were as bogus as the consequences were grave. He had collected spent tear gas canisters (see picture) to represent the harshness of the Israeli soldiers’ continuing violent response to unarmed demonstrators, and which had caused the death of Bassem Abu Rahme, Mr. Abu Rahmah’s cousin.
Israel charged, that Abdallah intended to use the no longer viable canisters as weapons. They arrested him, charging him as a security risk! This illustrates that the Israeli Defense Forces are far more afraid of unarmed protest than of armed resistance, and showing that they view Palestinians asserting their democratic rights as a crime. He was convicted on the ridiculous charges of “organizing illegal marches” and “incitement” after a unfair trial, and is now facing years in prison.
We who draw inspiration from his actions cannot let this happen. Now is the time to raise our voices and ensure Abdallah Abu Rahmah is free to organize and advocate for the rights of his community. We stand with Abdallah.
Israel needs to realize that leaders like Abdallah offer the best hope for a just peace for Israelis and Palestinains alike. We need to tell our governments to use their influence with Israel to free Abdallah Abu Rahmah.