In an unprecedented move, 32 members of US Congress Wednesday wrote Secretary of State Rex Tillerson a letter urging him to exert pressure on Israel to cease its attempts to imprison Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro.
The letter urged Tillerson to “urgently pursue all diplomatic tools at [his] disposal” to encourage Israeli authorities to reconsider their case against Amro.
Amro, founder of the Youth Against Settlements movement in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, will appear in Israeli military court on July 9 facing 18 charges related to nonviolent protests he organized against the Israeli occupation and settlement construction in his hometown.
— The IMEU (@theIMEU) June 29, 2017
Amro has been recognized by the UN and the EU as a human rights defender. Both the UN and Amnesty International have condemned the current case against him. Amro was also a guest of the US State Department as part of their International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in 2011.
The congressional letter, sponsored by Progressive Caucus co-Chair Mark Pocan – along with Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, and Ralph Blumenauer – notes, “We fear that Israeli military courts deliberating over Mr. Amro’s charges will be unlikely to render a fair and impartial verdict given that the conviction rate within that system is 99.74 percent.”
A separate letter advocating similar action from Tillerson was sent by Representatives Jamie Raskin and Jan Schakowsky.
— CODEPINK (@codepink) July 1, 2017
Amro authored an op-ed about life under occupation in Hebron for The Nation last year. This joins an opinion piece featuring him in The New York Times written by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman in January.
The effort to gather signatories to the letter was supported by a coalition of human rights organizations including U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, CODEPINK, Jewish Voice for Peace, and American Muslims for Palestine.
(Wafa, PC, Social Media)