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Action Needed for Jailed Non-Violent Resister


Action Needed for Jailed Non-Violent Resister ! Update on Ahmed Awadb

Ahmed Awad has been sentenced to two months in Ketziot prison. His sentence can be renewed repeatedly after that for up to 18 months. Then he can be released and then re-arrested for another series of renewable sentences for another 18 months, ad infinitum.

Ahmed has no idea what his accusers, judges and sentencers are claiming that he did. Neither does his lawyer. There has been no trial, he has faced no accuser and no evidence has been presented to him, his lawyer or anyone else in open court. There has only been a hearing in which he was told that there is secret evidence that he did something that was not necessarily illegal and that because of that he must go to prison. He was also warned not to repeat the unknown not-necessarily-illegal act.

It seems clear that Ahmed is being targeted because of his effectiveness in building a homegrown grassroots nonviolent movement in Budrus. If the military really had anything, they would have charged him and put him on trial.

Ahmed is being targeted because he is an articulate and respected leader, and because he refuses to cooperate with the occupation. We hear repeatedly "...if only the Palestinians could produce a Gandhi..." The fact is that the Palestinians have produced lots of Gandhis, but the Israeli policy is to kill, exile or imprison such leadership before they achieve the prominence of Hanan Ashrawi and Mustafa Barghouti. (Even Barghouti was not totally immune, as witnessed by the smashing of his knee.)

Of course, this is only one of thousands of injustices that occur every day under Israeli rule, but an international effort to free Ahmed tells Israel that we will not be silent.

Please call, fax and e-mail your elected representatives in your home country and tell them to take action. Call Amnesty International. Call the diplomatic mission of Israel in your country. Call Brigadeer General Amihai Mandelblit who now holds the office of Judge Advocate General Moshe Tirosh who overruled the cancellation of Ahmed's sentence for lack of evidence by the honest judge Military Judge Adrian Agassi.

Points to make:

Right to a fair trial Right to confront one's accuser Right to know charges Right to view evidence Ahmed's I.D.: 929915684. Here is some contact info:

Judge Advocate General Amihai Mandelblit. Tel. 972-3-5692911 and FAX 972-3-5694370. From Israel: 03 followed by the last seven digits. Amnesty International in London: Tel. 44-20-74135500 FAX 44-20-79561157 or, from Great Britain Tel. 020-74135500 FAX 020-79561157

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon webmaster@pmo.gov.il or asharon@knesset.gov.il The Office of the Prime Minister Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem, Israel Office Fax: +972-2-566-4838 0r +972 2 670 5415;

Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz sar@mod.gov.il (am not sure this works) Fax: +972 2 649 6545

Minister of Foreign Affairs & Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom sshalom@knesset.gov.il Fax: +972 2 675 3792

To write the White House and Congress quickly and easily visit: http://www.cflweb.org/ [it has good links] You can call the Capital switchboard toll-free: 1-800-839-5276 and ask to be connected to your member of Congress.

** For address and complaint form of US Commission of Human Rights go to http://193.194.138.190/html/hchr/contact.htm

This is an important case. It concerns the attempt to break the project of nonviolent popular resistance in the West Bank. The village Budrus has been waging a long and successful struggle, together with hundreds of Israelis, to defend its lands and against the fence. The people of Budrus became the model of nonviolent struggle for many communities in the West Bank, and their achievements were crucial both for debates within Israel and for Palestinian discussions about their political strategy. This is why Budrus has to pay. During the past few months, it has been occupied again and again by military units. Demonstrations were suppressed with unprecedented violence. And leaders of this struggle -- committed to nonviolent struggle, able to stand on their own, to articulate clearly their rejection of the occupation, while reaching a hand to Israelis for a peaceful future, based on mutual respect and recognition of each others' rights -- have repeatedly been detained without trial. Last year, two of them were detained without trial and released after a public campaign. Now it's Ahmad Awad's turn (please read his portrait below).

In times like these, we fear that Sharon's disengagement plan, coupled with an atmosphere of uncertainty in the wake of Yasser Arafat's death and widespread speculations concerning the results of the elections to the Palestinian Authority, some of the basic issues may go unnoticed. For the past few months, Sharon has invested considerable effort in 'normalizing' the situation in the West Bank (while intensifying the pressure on Gaza), wishing to prove, in the wake of widespread protest against the Wall, that the Palestinians can live with [it]. With Bush back in office, and with the expectations and confusion created by Sharon's disengagement plan ( winning passive assent, if not active approval, for the fence; intensifying internal divisions among the Palestinians; 'exporting' one of the main humanitarian disasters created by the occupation while maintaining complete control of the Gaza Strip ), we approach the next round of the struggle over the fence, and your help will be needed. Do whatever you can to urge his release and support the people of Budrus.

Yours Gadi Algazi, Tel Aviv

Non-violence frightens the army By Amira Hass, HaAretz (Tel Aviv), 10 November 2004 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/499602.html

Ahmed Awad is dangerous for public security. That's what the Shin Bet thinks, that's what Col. Yossi Adiri thinks, that's what military prosecutor Itai Pollak thinks. The three are responsible for the issue of an administrative arrest order against him at the end of October, meaning an arrest without trial, without any way to respond to the accusations against him.

Military Judge Adrian Agassi, on the other hand, does not think Awad is dangerous to public security. He ordered a cancellation of the administrative arrest order. But the military judge in the military appeals court, Moshe Tirosh, agrees that Awad is dangerous to the public. On November 3, he ordered a cancellation of the cancellation of the administrative arrest order.

The Shin Bet thought the danger from Awad was worth three months in administrative detention. Adiri thought that he should be jailed for four months, and the order he signed designated the dates as from October 28 to February 27.

But Tirosh had the impression that two months' administrative detention is appropriate, considering the amount of information and its severity that he found in the request for the arrest. To the decision to cancel the cancellation of the administrative order but to shorten the time Awad spends under arrest, he added, "I hope that the respondent will note that the current arrest is a warning of what the future holds and turns away from the bad road with its unhappy ending. He should pay attention to where he comes from and where he is going, and that there is someone before whom he will have to give an accounting."

But Awad doesn't have a clue what he must beware of and what is the bad road to which Judge Tirosh was referring. Tirosh, after all, was basing his decision on secret material on which the Shin Bet grounded the request for an administrative detention: the exact same secret material in which Agassi found no evidentiary basis for an arrest.

Awad's lawyer, Tamar Peleg, from Moked, the Center for the Defense of the Individual,(http://www.HaMoked.org.il/)also has no way to advise him how to "turn away from the bad road with its unhappy ending." She also is not allowed to see the classified material against her client. Awad, 42, is a high school teacher, father of six and one of the leaders of the Committee for the Popular Struggle against the Separation Fence, which went up in the village of Budrus. The activity by the residents of that village a year ago signaled the start of a grass-roots, non-violent Palestinian struggle against the route of the fence and its accompanying bulldozers, guards, military jeeps and soldiers.

Tear gas, beatings and shootings did not deter them. Quite a few Israelis joined their struggle, and ties of friendship and trust have been formed between them and the residents of the village. The struggle bore fruit. A spectacular olive grove that sprawls over a few hundred dunam was saved. The defense establishment decided to move the route of the fence westward, so as not to harm the trees. About 100 dunam of farmland remained that the fence was going to swallow up. The village decided to show self-restraint, to concede. They understood their victory was impressive. But then it turned out that the bulldozers deviated from the route that was agreed upon in the compromise between the army and the court. So the villagers resumed their demonstrations.

To prevent their demonstrations, the army and Border Police have been operating in the last three months with considerable aggression and violence against all the residents of the village. The demonstrations have been dispersed with more violence than usual. For 15 days the army imposed a de facto curfew on the village. The minute the children reached their schools, the troops fanned out in the village, took up positions, and did not allow people to leave their homes. The children were too frightened to leave school on their own.

That's when Awad was arrested. As opposed to the other members of the committee who belong to Fatah, Awad, as he admits, spent a year in prison in 1997 for belonging to Hamas. Last year he was actively involved in developing the non-violent approach to the struggle. "Instead of the fence, my friends and I managed to establish bridges of trust between us and the Jews," he said to Judge Agassi. "We let the world understand that there can be coexistence between us and the Jews."

According to the Shin Bet, military prosecution and Judge Tirosh, the danger referred to in the classified material does not refer to his activity against the fence but to "other activity." Peleg was only allowed to cast doubt upon the severity of the secret, "other activity." The open activity, the grass roots activity, she said, contributes to security and public order; it persuades young Palestinians that there is another way to fight for their rights, without going to the Carmel Market to blow up. The hope for change through non-violent struggle provides a counterweight to the despair that sends people to acts of personal vengeance.

But now the despair has been reinforced. Awad will sit in administrative detention until the end of the year. It is difficult not to think that the "good way" he and his colleagues chose in the popular committee is what bothers some elements in the army so much: fraternization with the Israelis, the recognition of a joint Palestinian-Israeli struggle against the occupation, the popular struggle's success at changing the military decisions, the refusal to be dragged into violence compared to the violence of the army and occupation.

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