Jordan Professional Associations: Return March According to Schedule Despite Government Ban
By Jihad Abu Falah
Albawaba.com – Amman
In an emergency meeting on Wednesday, Jordan’s Professional Associations Council asserted that the planned “Return March”, scheduled for October 24 will go on despite Amman’s ban on demonstrations.
Following hundreds of pro-Palestinian rallies after the outbreak of the Aqsa Intifada three weeks ago, the Jordanian government banned the activities claiming “sabotage acts” during the protests. However, the orders were defied on a number of occasions.
According to Saleh Armouti, head of the council and Bar Association, the unionists decided at the meeting to send a delegation to Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb “to inform him of the council’s position,” and to negotiate the ban on the march.
Thousands of Jordanians are expected to take part in the procession which will set out from all the kingdom’s cities and head for the King Hussein Bridge, which links Jordan and Israel.
The Islamist dominated council had been informed by Interior Minister Awad Khleifat of the government’s decision regarding the march, “which is not allowed under all circumstances for security reasons, in light of the confrontations between Palestinians and the Israeli occupying forces.”
Khleifat had met with Armouti on Monday to inform him of the ban, saying it was due to “the critical conditions the region is undergoing.”
“I briefed the heads of the associations on the government position. Nevertheless, they decided to go on with preparations for the march so that it is launched on the set date,” said Armouti in a statement to Albawaba.com.
The leading opposition figure added that the official stand toward such an activity is incomprehensible as far as he is concerned.
“I am surprised at the government stand. The rally’s demand for the Palestinians’ right of return and compensation, and the rejection of all forms of settlement of the Palestinians are in conformity with the official declared positions.
“The associations and opposition parties are able to control the participants and ensure order, and in all the rallies we have staged so far, there have been no clashes with the security forces,” Armouti added.
Meanwhile, opposition political parties voiced their support for the associations’ decision.
“The government has justified the ban on the rally by saying there is a danger that the participants might run into mine fields in the Jordan Valley, and that there are fears of clashes between the demonstrators and the police,” said Abdul Latif Arabiyyat, Secretary General of the Islamic Action Front, the largest opposition party.
“We can avoid all of this with good organization of the march and our strong ability, as opposition parties, to control the participants.”
Secretary general of the People’s Democratic Party (HASHD), Salem Nahhas also confirmed his party’s participation, and called on the government to lift the ban on the rally “and to adopt clear-cut positions regarding the refugee issue.”
An 18-year-old resident of the Baqaa camp to the north of Amman was shot dead during clashes between demonstrators and anti-riot police. Eight were injured and tens of protestors from all over the country were arrested and will be referred to the State Security Court. At least four minors are among the suspects, according to their defense lawyers.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)