I hope you are wonderfully proud of both the Abir’s Garden Playgrounds now completed in memory of Abir Aramin. These wonderful play areas and family meeting spaces are realizing our dreams, so carefully developed in Abir's memory: "a safe place to grow. A place where children can be children and step out of the occupation into a world of play and imagination, kindness, and warmth.”
For all these years, even as we worked to build the Abir's Garden playgrounds, Rebuilding Alliance together with the Aramin Family and Combatants for Peace have done our best to press for laws that will keep soldiers and guns far away from schools. In 2008, Rebuilding Alliance brought the Aramin Family to testify at the State Department’s Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Group. In 2009, with the help of the Carter Center, we brought her lawyer, Atty. Michael Sfard of Yesh Din, to meet with the State Department as we submitted transcripts of the failed investigation by the Jerusalem prosecutor, to begin a long process to invoke an important U.S. Human Rights Law called the Leahy Law. Michael Sfard told them, "Sometimes people think that if you do nothing following a human rights violation, the problems will just stop or go away — instead, they get worse."
Not long ago, the US State Department released its Human Rights Report for 2011, Israel and the Occupied Territories. Based on our meeting with a member of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor last December, I feared that our long efforts to pursue the Leahy Law on Abir Aramin's behalf would come to naught but instead, by what was written about Abir in the Human Rights Report, a door remains open in the application of this law. I expected the Leahy Law would help most in the Middle East, but it suddenly came closer to home when in Fall 2011, the Israeli Border Police joined the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department in the Oakland CA area for training, just before the County Sheriff's Department violently broke up the Occupy Oakland Movement. Due to what happened to Abir Aramin, the U.S. Leahy Law prohibits U.S. aid and training for the unit involved, the West Bank Unit of the Israeli Border Police, until the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Upon reading the U.S. State Department repoort, Abir's father Bassam Aramin was hopeful, writing “Just remember one thing about Abir’s cause, justice must win even if it takes a long time.”
On a positive note, we've already raised just over $7000 towards what will be the 3rd Abir's Garden Playground. I have asked Combatants for Peace to visit Al Aqaba village in the north, near Tubas, in Area C to consider citing the next Abir's Garden there so to keep this village standing and to reinforce their message of neighborliness, recovery, and peace. Al Aqaba Village is also inviting the Northern Group of Combatants for Peace to use their guesthouse as a retreat space to advance their important work.
Thank you, once again, for supporting the Abir's Garden Playground Project. We'll be in touch again soon as plans take shape for the 3rd playground in memory of Abir Aramin!
P.S. My colleague Rudy, found this amazing video, documenting Combatants for Peace in action during one of the early phases in the construction of the Al Samoa-Simya Abir’s Garden: http://youtu.be/AxqB4BZNzzM