For Immediate Release
Washington, D.C. – Representatives from four US human rights groups met with State Department officials on Friday, October 22nd, and delivered a letter addressed to Secretary of State Clinton signed by more than 5,000 individuals calling for the US government to demand that Israel free Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leading Palestinian nonviolent protest organizer. Abu Rahmah, from the West Bank village of Bil’in, was sentenced on October 11th in Israeli military court to one year in prison for his part in organizing Bil’in’s five-year campaign of civil disobedience to Israel’s construction of a fence and settlements on village land in violation of international law. Abu Rahmah’s conviction has been denounced by the UK Foreign Office, the EU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem and South African anti-apartheid leader Desmond Tutu.
Rob Mosrie, Executive Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation said, “Israel’s arrest of non-violent activists like Abdallah Abu Rahmah mocks President Obama’s call in his Cairo speech for Palestinians to use only nonviolent means to gain their freedom. What kind of message does it send to a community when their nonviolent leadership is jailed?”
The letter delivered to the State Department and addressed to Hillary Clinton was signed by 35 organizations and 5,270 individuals and written before Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s October 11th sentencing. The letter noted that in July 2010 in Krakow at a meeting of the intergovernmental group Community of Democracies, Secretary of State Clinton saluted “civil society activists around the world who have recently been harassed, censored, cut off from funding, arrested, prosecuted, even killed,” and called for coordinated international efforts to defend them. The letter to Clinton continued, “Abdallah Abu Rahmah is one of these activists who, in pursuit of human rights, has been unjustly imprisoned.”