trade unions urge government to free activists advocating boycott
of US, Israeli products
20 October 2002
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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
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.