Statement from Desmond Tutu on Bil’in activist Abdallah Abu Rahma
24 December 2009
Elders’ chair, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has expressed his deep concern about the arrest and indictment of Abdallah Abu Ramah of Bil’in and has called for his unconditional release.
Abu Rahma is a school teacher and coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, which has carried out a five year campaign of non-violent protest and legal challenge against the wall that separates Israel from the West Bank.
“My fellow Elders and I met Abu Rahma and his colleague Mohammad Khatib in August when we visited Bil’in,” said Desmond Tutu. “We were impressed by their commitment to peaceful political action, and their success in challenging the wall that unjustly separates the people of Bil’in from their land and their olive trees. I call on Israeli officials to release Abu Rahma immediately and unconditionally.”
Abu Rahma was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2 a.m. on 10 December 2009 and indicted on 22 December 2009 on several counts stemming from his leadership role in the Popular Committee. On 15 September Mohammad Khatib was severely beaten during a raid attempting to arrest Abu Rahma. Since 23 June 2009, 31 residents of Bil’in have been arrested.
“Abu Rahma’s arrest and indictment is part of an escalation by the Israeli military to try to break the spirit of the people of Bil’in,” said Tutu. “But they must realize that they cannot break the spirit of those who fight for freedom and justice.”
Abu Rahma met six members of The Elders on 27 August 2009. The Elders visited the site of Bil’in’s weekly demonstrations near the separation barrier and also saw the memorial site paying tribute to Abu Rahma’s cousin Bassem Abu Rahma who was killed when he was hit in the chest by a tear gas canister during one of the demonstrations. (see photo)
The Elders who visited Bil’in were Desmond Tutu, Ela Bhatt, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson. For more information go to www.theElders.org/middle-east