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Celebrating the 5th Anniversary of Non-Violent Resistance in Bil'in in the West Bank
February 1, 2010February 5th from 5 until 6pm at the Israeli Consulate 180 Bloor St. W. Toronto
Since 2005, the people of Bil'in, a farming village in the West Bank, have been demonstrating non-violently against the ever-expanding illegal Israeli settlements and the separation wall which encroaches on and divides their land. The village has organized weekly protests with active participation from both Israeli and international peace activists and has become an internationally celebrated symbol of non-violent resistance.
In a landmark lawsuit, Bil'in has brought legal proceedings in Montreal, Quebec, against two Canadian corporations for violating both international and Canadian domestic law by acting as agents for Israel in constructing buildings in the West Bank. These buildings serve as housing exclusively for Israeli civilians in an area that is internationally recognized as territory occupied as a result of war. The Fourth Geneva Convention (to which Canada is a signatory) as well as Canada's own Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act also prohibit occupying forces from establishing settlements at the expense of indigenous populations. This case would have far-reaching implications against land theft and occupation both in the West Bank and internationally.
Last spring this case was heard in Montreal. One of the leaders of the Bil'in Village Popular Committee, Mohammed Khatib, and one of the Israeli lawyers representing the village, Emily Schaeffer, came to Canada for the case and were heard across the nation in the media and through a national speaking tour. In the fall the Quebec Superior Court found against the village on the argument that the case could not be pursued in Israeli courts. But on another important issue, he found that war crimes are a potential basis for civil liability. Upon an appeal by Bil'in's lawyers against the ruling to dismiss, in December the Court of Appeal allowed Bil'in's suit to proceed to a full hearing on its merits which will happen sometime in the spring of 2010.
Since the hearing of this case, the Israeli army began a series of night raids in Bil'in targeting particularly the leadership and arresting and imprisoning people as young as 14 in an attempt to intimidate. A few days ago Mohammed Khatib was arrested for the second time since the spring.
The case of his previous arrest was thrown out because he was in Canada at the time of the incident cited.
February 5th 2010 marks the 5th anniversary of the non-violent action in Bil'in and we will be celebrating this on that day by having a lively action in front of the Israeli consulate at 180 Bloor St W. From 5 to 6pm.
One of the people arrested, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a schoolteacher from Bil'in wrote from his prison No army, no prison and no wall can stop us.
We will be there in solidarity with the people of Bil'in and the Palestinian people in their quest for human dignity and self-determination- Palestinians, Jews and others. We say as well we refuse to be enemies.
For more information on Bil'in: www.bilin-village.org
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