Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Steadfast and Defiant, for Peace with Justice, Bil'in goes on air

INJURED PROTESTER is rushed away,
but Bil'in remains proud and defiant

FORGET the BBC, for your Middle East coverage, at least for a day or so, and welcome the new BBC - Bil'in Broadcasting Conference! The Palestinian village, scene of regular confrontations between peaceful demonstrators over Israel's annexation wall and Israeli forces firing rubber bullets and tear gas, is hosting an international conference on Popular Struggle.

Participants include Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti, Italian MEP Lisa Morgantini, Israeli journalist Amira Hass, and Irish Nobel peace [rize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire.

To get the message through to people who can not attend, part of the proceedings are being broadcast online, and in English.

If the idea of yet another international conference does not sound so important or exciting, we should remember this one is happening not in peaceful Geneva or similarly comfortable setting, but right in the thick of things.

This was the news from Bil'in at the weekend:

At least 15 demonstrators were injured today in the village of Bil’in. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at a crowd of Palestinian, Israeli, and internationals, who were non-violently resisting Israel’s Apartheid Wall and Occupation of Palestinian land.
Every Friday for the past 26 months, Palestinians and their Israeli and international colleagues have been meeting in Bil’in and demonstrating against the Apartheid Wall. Today, in commemoration of Palestinian Prisoner’s Week, a portable “jail cell” was carried along the march towards the Wall. Palestinians, with their hands tied, resembling prisoners, marched inside the cell. Photos of Marwan Barghouti and other political prisoners were seen throughout the march.

Israeli forces were waiting inside of the Wall, however, preventing the demonstrators from reaching their destination. A high-powered water tank was also inside the Wall, waiting to be used on the demonstrators. Instead, the army started propelling tear gas at the peaceful demonstration. As people began to scatter in various directions, soldiers fired indiscriminately into the trees.

On the very eve of the conference we got this message, via the International Solidarity Movement, yesterday:

Israeli Occupation Forces are currently invading the village of Bil'in. Mohammad Khatib, from Bil'in, stated that the army has set up a checkpoint just outside of Bil'in, where he was detained for an hour on his way to Ramallah. Shortly thereafter, he received a call that soldiers were entering people's homes, supposedly looking for "wanted men." Akram, who is now in Bil'in, said that the Israeli Forces have split up into three groups and are searching homes, including the home of Mohammad Khatib where his wife and children are. Akram said that soldiers are currently near the mosque.

Despite all this, the conference is going ahead, and here is the news that it will be broadcast to us:

Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 11:48 PM
Subject: [rapprochement] Bilin Conference Boradcasted ONLINE

Dear All,

Out of concern that you may miss the International Conference on Popular Struggle which will be held in Bilin on Wednesday and Thursday (18 + 19) April, 2007, IMEMC is going to broadcast the conference live on its web stream service. So you are all invited to listen to the conference. For a detailed program visit where you can find what sessions will be broadcast and what time.
Please keep in mind that the conference time is on Jerusalem time (GMT +3)

The stream will be in English.

Among the key speakers at the conferece,

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Palestinian Minister of Information
Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Irish Nobel Peace Prize recipient
Dr. Ilan Pappe, author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
Luisa Morgantini, Italian EU Parliament member and Peace Activist
Stéphane Hessel, former French Ambassador
Jean-Claude Lefort, French parliament member
Amira Haas, Author and Journalist, Ha'aretz
Sam Bahour, Palestinian activist and entrepreneur

Your support is needed to continue the struggle for peace and justice

-----------George N. Rishmawi

The Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between People (PCR) ,

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