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A controversial, but first-hand testimony to suffering on both sides of the Palestine-Israel border will be delivered to an audience at Crookham United Reformed Church today (Thursday), at 7pm.
Under the auspices of the FLodden Peace and Reconciliation centre based at the church, peace monitor Andy Lie will describe his recent spell of duty as an official human rights observer under the umbrella of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).
His mission was to witness life of a population under occupation and, by so doing, reduce the chance of human rights abuses.
He had to carry home the message of what he had seen in order to promote change for peace and justice.
In a recent report he said: “It was only recently that movement to and from Ramallah, the political and economic centre of Palestine, was severely restricted after a shooting attack that wounded three Israeli soldiers.
“Checkpoints were shut down, preventing tens of thousands of Palestinians from entering or exiting the city.
“This is collective punishment, a clear violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 50 of the Hague Regulations, and an unnecessary disruption of daily civilian life.
“When people are treated inhumanely and they feel so much trapped in ‘cages’ and surrounded by concrete walls, there is often that temptation to resort to violence.
“This is most recently borne by a reminder from the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, when he said ‘history proves that people will always resist occupation’.”
Such judgments earn Lie and his colleagues as many enemies as friends, but their work goes on, the criticisms bravely borne.
His talk promises to be both thoughtful and provocative. It is open to all.