Free Mohammad Othman Now!

September 24, 2009

8835_164021860271_600485271_4115684_3870810_n

Free Mohammad Othman Now!

On September 22, Mohammad Othman was arrested by soldiers on the Allenby Bridge Crossing, the border from Jordan to Palestine. He is now being held in Huwara prison as a prisoner of conscience, arrested solely for his human rights work.

Mohammad, 33 years old, has dedicated the last ten years of his life to the defense of Palestinian human rights. He has campaigned with the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign against the dispossession of Palestinian farmers and against the involvement of Israeli and international business in the violations of Palestinian human rights.

His village, Jayyous, has been devastated by the Apartheid Wall and Zufim – a settlement, built by Lev Leviev’s companies. These companies are facing a successful boycott campaign because of their violations of Palestinian rights.

Mohammad was returning from one of his trips to Norway, during which he met with senior officials, including Norwegian Finance Minister Kristen Halvorsen. Norway’s national Pension Fund recently announced that it had divested from Elbit, the Israeli company which provides both Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and other military technology for Occupation forces, as well as security systems for the Wall and settlements.

This is not the first time Palestinian human rights defenders have been arrested after trips abroad. Recently, Muhammad Srour, an eye witness at the UN Fact Finding Mission on Gaza, was arrested on his way back from Geneva. This arrest was a clear act of reprisal against Srour for speaking out about Israel’s violations of international law. Arresting Palestinians as they return from travel is yet another Israeli tactic to try to silence Palestinian human rights defenders. It complements the overall policy of isolation of the Palestinian people behind checkpoints, walls and razor wire.

We call on international solidarity and human rights organizations to act immediately to bring attention to this case and advocate for the release of Mohammad Othman

Please go to the Take Action page to find out what you can do.

You can also leave a message for Mohammad.

For more information contact: freemohammad@stopthewall.org

Mohammad Othman represents only one of the 11,000 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons. More than 800 are being held in “administrative detention,” meaning that they are imprisoned (indefinitely) without charge. International solidarity and governments have to hold Israel accountable and achieve an end to the large scale repression and mass imprisonment of Palestinians as part of their efforts to bring about an end to the occupation and the restoration of Palestinian rights.


Article on Mohammad by Ben White

September 24, 2009

8835_164061265271_600485271_4116289_2322455_n

Journalist and writer Ben White has written a blog post about Mohammad’s arrest.

Nonviolent Palestinian Activists Arrested as Israel Cracks Down on Wall Protests
by Ben White

Earlier this year, I was shown around Jayyous by Mohammad Othman, Youth Coordinator of the Stop the Wall campaign, a nonviolent grassroots movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. His community, like many others, has been hit hard by Israel’s Separation Wall, their very livelihoods threatened by Israel’s drive to carry out a land grab under the claim of security.

Yesterday, Othman was detained and arrested by Israeli soldiers as he attempted to cross back into the West Bank from Jordan, returning from a trip to Norway. He will apparently meet with his lawyer tomorrow, and there is a court appearance scheduled for Tuesday next week.

Across the Occupied Territories, the Israeli military has been cracking down on Palestinian civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance, particularly as it relates to the Separation Wall. Bil’in, a village now famous for its protests against the Wall that Desmond Tutu compared to Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., has been repeatedly raided by Israeli soldiers, with nonviolent activists and their families intimidated, beaten, and snatched from their homes.

The Separation Wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice at The Hague in an Advisory Opinion in 2004, cuts through the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories under Israeli military occupation:

About two-thirds of the 700km+ route, featuring a 8m-high wall, electric fences, sniper towers and “buffer zones” up to 100m wide, is completed or under construction. Of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 8.5% will be on the “wrong” side of the wall.

In the absence of foreign governments applying pressure on Israel to abide by international law with regards to its military occupation, the settlements, and the Separation Wall, courageous individuals like Mohammad Othman have sacrificed much in order to stand up for Palestinians’ basic rights. Hindi Mesleh is a volunteer with the Stop the Wall campaign, and a friend of Mohammad’s. He told me today that Mohammad is motivated by his concern for “the youth of Palestine – he wants to support them, and always encourages them to stay, not to leave, and to fight for Palestinian rights”.

This is not the first time I have written here of peaceful protestors being detained for speaking up for equality for Palestinians. Let’s hope that there is a similar clamour for the release of Othman – and indeed the many other Palestinian political prisoners jailed solely for nonviolently exercising their rights of free expression.

Ben White is a journalist and writer based in London. He blogs at www.benwhite.org.uk.