Wednesday, February 13, 2013

UK denies visa to Palestinian nonviolent activist (but welcomes Zionist war criminals)

Is the British government frightened by Palestine’s peaceful campaigners?

by Amena Saleem

The double standards of the British government in relation to Palestine and Israel were laid bare yesterday with the news that Palestinian activist Saeed Amireh has been refused a visa to visit the UK.

Amireh, a member of the popular committee in his West Bank village of Nilin, was due to begin a speaking tour that would have taken him from the south coast of England to Dunblane in Scotland, speaking to the network of branches of Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and university Palestine societies. In London, he was due to speak alongside Sami Abu Shehadeh, of the Jaffa Popular Committee for the Defence of Land and Housing Rights, in a meeting organized by PSC and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

However, a government which, in 2011, changed the law to make it easier for Israeli war criminals to enter the UK, yesterday denied Amireh, a peaceful campaigner against the Israeli occupation and the theft of Nilin’s land, the right of entry. He was told he hadn’t provided “enough supporting documents,” even though he had supplied everything that was asked for, including a letter of invitation and guarantee of his costs being paid from PSC.

Amireh, 21, is used to struggle. At the age of 17, as he was about to take his final school exams, he was imprisoned by the Israeli authorities for four and a half months. A year earlier, he had been demonstrating against the wall which is destroying Nilin when the Israeli army began shooting live rounds. A 10-year-old child, Ahmed Moussa, was shot in the head. As he fell, Amireh rushed to catch him and has described his shock as he held the boy while he bled to death, his brain falling out of his skull.

Amireh has spoken in Europe and Australia about these experiences and the nonviolent resistance of the people of Nilin against the wall and illegal settlements which have stolen the village’s land, reducing it from 5,800 dunnums to 800. The village is surrounded by five settlements, and an apartheid road, off-limits to Palestinians, cuts through its heart. In preparation for a total closure, the Israeli army has begun constructing a tunnel that will take Palestinians in and out of Ni’lin at set times of the day.

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