Thursday, November 17, 2011

Six Palestinian Freedom Riders arrested traveling on Israeli-only bus

Dear friends,

please find below a report on the Palestinian Freedom Riders by Adam Horowitz from Mondoweiss.  Included in Adam's report is the statement issued by the Palestinian Freedom Rider's media team just before they boarded the bus explaining the action and calling for solidarity.

In solidarity, Kim 


freedom riders Huwaida Arraf and Fadi Quran on Israeli Bus 148. (Photo: Activestills)

The following statement was made at the start of the Freedom Ride protest this morning:

My name is Hurriyeh Ziadah. I am the media spokeswomen for the Palestinian Freedom Rides campaign. Thank you all for being here today.

Fifty years ago brave African American civil rights activists challenged the racist and unjust laws of Jim Crow by boarding buses to the segregated South, thereby embarking on a campaign of civil disobedience and direct action.
In less than an hour, Palestinian activists, taking inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement’s Freedom Rides, will embark on a similar civil disobedience campaign to challenge Israel’s regime of colonial Apartheid in Palestine.

Although the tactics and methodologies differ, both white supremacists and the Israeli occupiers commit the same crime: they strip a people of freedom, justice and dignity. In undertaking this action we do not seek the desegregation of settler buses, as the presence of these colonizers and the infrastructure that serves them is illegal and must be dismantled. As part of our struggle for freedom, justice and dignity, we demand the ability to be able to travel freely on our own roads, on our own land, including the right to travel to Jerusalem.

We also aim to expose two of the companies that profit from Israel’s apartheid policies and encourage global boycott of and divestment from them. The Israeli Egged and French Veolia bus companies operate dozens of segregated lines that run through the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, many of them subsidized by the state. Both companies are also involved in the Jerusalem Light Rail, a train project that links illegal settlements in East Jerusalem to the western part of the city. By facilitating population transfer into occupied Palestinian territory, Egged and Veolia are actively and knowingly complicit in Israel’s settlement enterprise, which the International Court of Justice has determined to be a breach of international law.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

We urge the people of the world not to accept the evil that is our occupation, dispossession and oppression, and to divest yourselves and your governments from the corporations that enable Israel to continue doing this to us. Egged and Veolia are two transportation companies that serve Israel’s segregated, colonial, infrastructure. By passively accepting their presence and not protesting against them, you are all indirectly complicit in the crimes they commit against us, and the profits they make from the violation of our rights; violations that the Freedom Riders will expose today.

Our rights will not voluntarily be handed to us, so we are heading out to demand them.
We know that in undertaking this action we risk arrest, vicious attacks by Israeli settlers, abuse by Israeli soldiers, and even death. We take this risk upon ourselves as a step towards ensuring Freedom, Justice, and Dignity for future generations of Palestinians and all people in the region.

The six Freedom Riders who were arrested are Nadeem Al Sharbate, Badee Dwak, Huwaida Arraf, Basel Al Araj, Fadi Quran, and Mazin Qumsiyeh. They were all take to the Atarot prison. Here are some background and updates there were posted on the Palestinian Freedom Riders Facebook page:
Nadeem Alshirbaty, one of the arrested Freedom Riders from Hebron, is 33 years old and one of the founders of Youth Against Settlements group. He visited Jerusalem 14 years ago, and when asked why is he riding the bus said "This is our duty to defend our rights and land, even if it is the last day of our lives."
Basel Al-a’raj , another freedom rider was arrested. Basel is 28 years old pharmacist and a youth activist from Walajeh village in Bethlehem district. Today Basil tried to disturb the settlers road traffic, his friends heard him shouting as he was arrested “lets boycott Israeli... Freedom to Palestine”
Bassel Al Araj's last words before arrest: "I am Bassel Al-Araj, a Palestinian Freedom Rider. Boycott Egged Boycott Veolia!"
Fadi before arrest: Please divest from all companies that benefit from the Apartheid regime!
Fadi Quraan , one of freedom riders was also arrested. Fadi is a 23 old Palestinian from Ramallah. He was born in Jerusalem and he is currently a graduate student at Birzeit University finishing his master degree in Democracy and human rights. This morning when he his asked about his motivation for riding the bus , he said: “ I believe that our generation will free Palestinian through every possible way of popular resistance.
Badi’ Dweik, one of Freedom Riders, 38 years old and from Hebron detained is one of the founder of the International Campaign to Revive the Shuhada Street in Hebron. When asked why is he boarding the bus, he said that this is a means of resisting the Israeli occupation…he said: “ I am a believer in the justice of our cause, we will be free if we each do our duty…we should try all resistance means to end the occupation"
Mazen Qumseyeh from Beit Sahour, is 54 years old. He is a Professor and researcher at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities. He was several publications on Palestinian struggle and Popular resistance in Palestine.
Huwaida Arraf, one of the arrested Freedom Riders, is 35 years old and a member of the International Solidarity Movement. She is the coordinator of the Freedom Flotilla and is responsible for the "Free Gaza" movement that initiated the Freedom Flotillas demanding to lift the siege over Gaza.

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