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The following is a letter written by Paul Moist, CUPE national president, to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging Harper to call on the Israeli government to release Abdallah Abu Rahmah.

September 14, 2010

Dear Prime Minister Harper:

While many eyes are currently focused on U.S. brokered peace talks between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, we would like to draw your attention to another example of how the occupation of the West Bank is dramatically affecting the rights and freedoms of the Palestinian people.

On August 24, 2010, Abdallah Abu Rahmah head of the “Popular Committee against the Wall” in BiI’in, was convicted by an Israeli military court of organizing an “illegal demonstration against the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in and of’ ‘incitement’.” The Israeli military defines incitement as “the attempt to influence public opinion in the Area (Occupied Palestinian Territories) in a way that may disturb the public peace.”

Abdallah Abu Rahmah is subject to up to ten years imprisonment and has been in jail since December 10, 2009.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees urges the Canadian government to immediately demand the lsraeli government release of Abdallah who has been courageously exercising his democratic right to non-violent protest against the Israeli separation wall.

The irony of Abdallah’s arrest is that he has been found guilty of organizing “illegal” demonstrations against a wall which itself has been judged illegal by the International Court of Justice, the world’s highest court, in 2004. The court also ruled that the Jewish only settlement of Mod’in lIit on Bil’in’s municipal territory is illegal.

The village of BiI’in and its 1,800 residents have been engaged in non-violent protests against the wall and the illegal settlement for over six years. They have been subject to Israeli water cannons, rubber steel-coated bullets, tear gas and real bullets. Seventy-five residents have been arrested and now their leader has been imprisoned.

Amnesty International reports that two other prominent activists against the wall, Mohammed Othman and Jamal Juma, were arrested last year after a legitimate expression of opposition to the construction of the wall but were released without charge in January 2010 following international calls for the end of their detention. We expect no less for Abdallah Abu Rahmah.

CUPE joins Canadian citizens’ support for International law and a peaceful two-state solution to the conflict involving both Palestine and Israel. As such we support the village of Bil’in in their peaceful protest and request that the Canadian government call upon the Israeli government to release Abdallah Abu Rahmah.

Yours truly,

Paul Moist
National President
Canadian Union of Public Employees