TA protest: Release Bilin mayor

IDF arrests mayor of village in which weekly clashes between IDF and anti-separation fence protesters take place. Members of leftist organizations demand mayor be released, say Israel acting contrary to its own rulings

Anat Shalev
12.11.09, 08:57 / Israel News

In a raid on his house Thursday, the IDF arrested head of the Popular Committee in Bilin, Abdullah Abu Rahma. According to military sources, the reason for his arrest is his involvement in the weekly protests against the separation fence that take place in the village, located west of Ramallah.

At around 2 am, military forces arrived at Abu Rahma's house and arrested him. Abu Rahma is a high school teacher in Bir Zeit and has been arrested before in the past.

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His lawyer, Attorney Gaby Lasky, said to Ynet: "The arrest of my client is another flagrant example of calling into play legal means for the political persecution of the residents of Bilin. The protests in the village systematically serve a purpose while the State of Israel is in fact the one violating a High Court ruling that established that justice is on the side of the protesters and ordered two years ago that the route of the fence in the area be modified. Nothing has been done until today."

Mohammad Hatib, an activist in the Popular Committee of Bilin, said in response to Abu Rahma's arrest: "These arrests are meant to crush the popular resistance, but we will continue to demand our rights even if we will be forced to do so from inside the military's jail cells."

Hatib also emphasized that the court's decision on the fence's route has yet to be implemented. "Even the Israeli court ruled that the fence on our land is illegal and needs to be dismantled. However, not only has the fence not been moved even a centimeter, but the military is arresting and jailing us when we fight for our rights as it itself is breaking the law."

A protest was held in Tel Aviv Thursday night against the arrest hand in hand with marking International Human Rights Day. At the event, which was attended by some 150 people, banners were waved with slogans such as: "If Abu Rahma is a wanted man, so are we" and "We won't let popular resistance be put to death."

Adar Grievsky from the group "Anarchist against the Wall," said, "In recent months 31 people have been arrested in Bilin during night raids. It must be remembered that these are popular protests that take place every week. They are not violent or armed, and every democratic regime must allow them. When Israel acts violently against non-violent people, it shows that it has something to earn from armed struggle.

"The protest is both an outcry against the occupation and oppression of such outcries against it. It is International Human Rights Day, and it is important to emphasize to all Israelis that human rights are violated in the territories on a daily basis, and every time basic rights are violated there that need to be granted to every person whoever they are."

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