A human rights group voices serious concern over Israel’s conviction of a Palestinian activist protesting against confiscation of his village’s land in the West Bank.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday that the conviction of Abdullah Abu Rahme, 39, is the unjust result of an unfair trial.
"Israel’s conviction of Abu Rahme for protesting the unlawful confiscation of his village’s land is the unjust result of an unfair trial," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.
"The Israeli authorities are effectively banning peaceful expression of political speech by convicting supporters of nonviolent resistance," she added.
Abu Rahme, a school teacher and a supporter of nonviolent protests, has been in Israeli custody for more than eight months. He was convicted on August 24 on charges of organizing and participating in so-called “illegal demonstrations,” allegedly inciting protestors to damage the anti-apartheid wall which cuts off Bilin’s access to more than 50 percent of its farmlands, on which the illegal settlements are being constructed.
The group said that Rahme’s conviction was based on allegations that did not specify any particular incidents of wrongdoing. It was also based on statements made by some protesters who later said that the Israeli military interrogators forced them to sign papers written in Hebrew which they did not understand and did not know their contents.
He remains in custody pending sentencing and could face 20 years in prison.