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Help the nonviolent activists

Dear Editor:

Over the past 40 years, Palestinians have continuously demonstrated nonviolent forms of opposition to the occupation and theft of their land. Israel’s response has been to violently attack the protesters and arrest local leaders of peaceful demonstrations.

On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, an American human-rights defender demonstrating against Palestinian home demolitions, was crushed to death by a bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier.

On March 13, 2009, American peace activist Tristan Anderson suffered permanent brain damage from a tear gas projectile shot by Israeli Border Police during a peaceful demonstration against Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank.

On Dec. 10, 2009, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements was handcuffed, blindfolded and taken from his home in Bil’in to an Israeli military prison where he awaits trial for his “crime.”

On Dec. 16, 2009, Jamal Juma’a, who founded the Stop the Wall Campaign, was arrested, as was his colleague Mohammad Othman after returning from Norway where he was advocating for divestment from Israeli business interests.

These are not isolated incidents, but represent the all-too-common reaction by the Israeli occupation forces to peaceful civil demonstrations by Palestinian and international activists. Six people have been killed and several hundred injured in Bil’in and the neighboring village of Na’alin in five years of weekly protests against the apartheid wall.

The village of Beit Sahour, comprised of 70 percent Christians and 30 percent Muslims, has a long history of nonviolent civil resistance, including a tax revolt against the Israeli government in 1988. Beit Sahour is the home of Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a U.S. citizen and activist for Palestinian rights, who faces arrest by the Israeli army upon his return this week after completing a speaking tour in the United States.

Nonviolent resistance to oppression and occupation are consistent with international law and U.S. policies. In his Cairo speech, President Obama called on Palestinians to use nonviolent means to achieve their goal of a national homeland.

In remembrance of Rachel Corrie and other fallen heroes of the occupation resistance movement, please contact the U.S. State Department at (202) 647-6575 and ask them to intervene on behalf of all nonviolent activists who are being arrested, injured, and even killed for standing up for human rights.

Sue Gray

Carbondale


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