Baroness Ashton Condemns Bil'in Leader's Conviction; Attorney: "International Community Must Take a Tough Stand on Human Rights Defenders

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Press release
25 August 2010

The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, strongly condemned the conviction of Bil'in resident Abdallah Abu Rahmah by a military court yesterday

In a peremptory statement released by Catherine Ashton yesterday following the conviction, the EU expressed a strong concern over the repression of protest against the wall and persecution of Palestinian human rights defenders. Ashton said, "The High Representative is deeply concerned that the possible imprisonment of Mr Abu Rahma is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a non violent manner. "

Adv. Gaby Lasky, Abu Rahmah's lawyer said, "Soldiers have killed and injured dozens and hundreds of protesters in the attempt to stop the Palestinian popular struggle, but have failed. They are now trying to illegitimately use the courts and the legal system in the same way. The international community must take a tough stand on this issue, and I am happy that the political motivation of the indictment against a human rights defender was clear to the EU from attending the hearings."

"Israel believes that that it can do as it likes - the International Court of Justice in the Hague and even the Israeli Supreme Court have both ruled that the wall Israel builds on our land is illegal, and yet, it is still there. Somehow, despite the wall's illegality, we are the ones being persecuted and jailed for rightfully protesting. The recognition of our rights to protest in Ashton's statement is important, but it must also be translated into real and concrete pressure on Israel," said Mohammed Khatib, secretary of the Bil'in Village Council. "While everyone is talking about the resumption of negotiations, on the ground nothing has changed," he added.

Media contact: Jonathan Pollak 0546327736