Mohammad Othman: arrested for speaking for his people
"WHAT the Palestinian people need is articulate spokespersons who can make a reasonable case", is a piece of presumably well-meaning advice one still hears occasionally, along with the helpful suggestion that they try non-violent civil resistance. I'm not sure if these supposed well-wishers have never heard of Bil'in, where non-violent protesters have faced tear gas and rubber bullets for protesting Israel's Wall on their land, or if they think American campaigner Rachel Corrie was some kind of "terrorist", because she might have damaged the bulldozer which killed her as she tried to resist it demolishing a family's home.
Jayous, like Bil'in, is a West Bank village where Israel's so-called security fence separates the people from the land which is their livelihood. Here is a video from Amnesty International's visit to Jayous:
MOHAMMAD OTHMAN comes from Jayous.
Mohammad, 33, is a member of Stop the Wall, a grass-roots campaigning body linked with War on Want in Britain. He has campaigned peacefully for ten years now, and been able to speak to visitors to Jayous, showing them the Wall and explaining how it affects people. More recently he was invited to Europe to speak to people, explaining how, in his view, they could help the Palestinian people resist occupation by supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions as a strategy of pressure on Israel to withdraw.
On September 22, Mohammad Othman was detained by Israeli police as he returned from Norway and tried to cross the Allemby Bridge on his way home. He is due to face a military court on September 29. He has not been informed of the charges against him.
It reminds me of the old joke which has an Israeli officer saying "We need to find out leaders who can really speak for the people. Then lock them up!"
Those who have met Mohammad Othman say he is articulate, has a good sense of humour, and is well-liked by both local people and visitors from abroad.
Writer and campaigner Naomi Klein says "I learned more from spending a day driving around the West Bank with Othman, following the land-grabbing path of the Wall, than I have from reading dozens of books. His passion for knowledge and his love of the land are astounding and contagious."
In London, Yasmin Khan, Senior Campaigns Officer at War on Want said "War on Want condemns the arrest and detention of Mohammad Othman and calls for his immediate and unconditional response. It is unacceptable for Israel to be targetting human rights defenders with such intimidation"
Friends of Mohammad Othman suggest three things we can do to help secure his release.
* Demand the Israeli authorities release Mohammad by sending a letter to Ron Prosor, the Israeli Ambassador in London (or wherever you are)
* Demand the British government put pressure on Israel to release Mohammad by writing to the British Consulate in Jerusalem.
* Follow his campaign blog and join the facebook group to get the latest updates and action alerts
For more information and to take action see:
Sign the petition:
Free Mohammad blog:
Friends of Freedom and Justice at Bil'in: