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Jordan's trade unions urge government to free activists advocating boycott of US, Israeli products

Jerusalem Post
20 October 2002



AMMAN, Jordan

Members of Jordan's trade unions on Sunday urged the government to release from custody three activists who campaigned for boycott of US and Israeli products. Ali Abu-Sukar, Badi Rafayaah and Maysarah Malas were detained Oct. 7 for distributing leaflets urging school children to boycott American and Israeli goods.

A day later, the military prosecutor charged the three with affiliation with an unspecified "illegal" body, which officials later identified as the Anti-Normalization Committee. The prosecutor has so far refused several bail requests. The committee was founded four years ago by Jordan's 14 professional syndicates, dominated by Muslim and leftist hard-liners opposed to the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty and Washington's Mideast policy, which they regard as biased in favor of Israel.

Information Minister Mohammad Affash Adwan said the committee had violated the law. "Such a committee should be dissolved because it is harming Jordanian interests and causing millions of dollars in losses to the Jordanian economy," Adwan said.

The government maintains that the committee had targeted Jordanian firms, which employ local work force and generate revenue to the cash- strapped kingdom. Some of the firms are in joint venture with Israel.

On Sunday, speakers at an indoor rally organized by Amman's professional unions called for severing ties with Israel and for the expulsion of Israeli Ambassador David Dadonn.

One speaker, Azzam Hineidi, urged the government to release the three detainees, saying they have devoted themselves "to fight normalization with the Zionist enemy." Hineidi, head of a council grouping all 14 syndicates, also criticized the United States for what he described as its "double- standard policy" toward Iraq and Israel.