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PCHR Condemns Use of Force to Disperse Peaceful Demonstrations in Solidarity with the Administrative Detainees on Hunger Strike and Attacks on PLC Members and Journalists

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)

June 11, 2014

Ref: 60/2014

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the use of force to disperse peaceful demonstrations organized in Nablus and al-Bireh in solidarity with the Palestinian administrative detainees by the Palestinian security services, the accompanying attacks on the demonstrators and journalists, and arrests of civilians. PCHR calls upon the Attorney General to investigate these attacks and bring the perpetrators before justice. Moreover, PCHR calls upon the Palestinian Authority to take the necessary measures to respect the civilians' right to hold public and private peaceful assemblies and respect press freedoms that are guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights standards.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR and the testimonies of eyewitnesses, at approximately 20:30 on Monday, 09 June 2014, a peaceful demonstration that was initiated from several areas in Ramallah and al-Bireh arrived at a yard opposite to the building of AL-Bireh Municipality. Dozens of civilians participated in the demonstration, including members of Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Demonstrators raised Hamas flags and chanted slogans in solidarity with the administrative detainees on hunger strike in Israeli prisons. In the meantime, Palestinian security forces attacked the demonstrators and prevented them from moving from the Municipality's yard. Demonstrators were beaten up and forced to take down the green Hamas flags. As a result, a number of demonstrators, including Hassan Yousif, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), sustained bruises. Security forces prevented journalists from taking photos and tried to take the films out of their cameras in addition to beating them up. Yousif al-Shayb , a journalist at Al-Ayyam newspaper, said to PCHR's staff that security forces attacked him and took his mobile phone, which was returned to him 15 minutes later after destroying the filming material. Several civilians were arrested and taken away.

Around the same time, Palestinian security forces attacked a demonstration organized at the solidarity tent in the Martyrs Square in Nablus in solidarity with the administrative detainees. Eyewitnesses said to the PCHR's staff that officers of Preventive Security Services, General Intelligence Services, and National Security Forces arrived at the area and attacked the peaceful demonstration. Security forces claimed that they were looking for a man who was shooting in the air, and then arrested Nazih Abu Al-'Oun, a Hamas leader, and Imad Ishteiwi, who is responsible for the solidarity tent, after beating them up. As a result, the demonstration was dispersed and security forces chased the demonstrators into the streets of the old town. The demonstrators threw stones at the security officers in response.

In this context, PCHR stresses that:

1. The Palestinian Basic Law guarantees the right to hold private meetings without the intervention of the Palestinian police according to article (26-5) which stipulates: "Palestiniansů shall have the following rights in particular: ů. To conduct private meetings without the presence of police members, and to conduct public meetings, gatherings and processions, within the limits of the law."

2. The right to hold private peaceful assemblies in closed places, such as seminars, workshops and celebrations, do not fall within the scope of application of the Public Meetings Law 12/1998. Therefore, organizers of such meetings are no required to notify the Palestinian police or mayors according to the law.

3. The right to freedom of opinion and expression and press freedoms are guaranteed according to articles 19 and 27 of the Palestinian Basic Law. Article (27-2) provides: "Press, printing, publishing, distribution and broadcast freedoms are guaranteed according to the Palestinian Basic Law and other relevant laws".

Therefore, PCHR:

1. Calls upon the Attorney General to open a serious investigation into these attacks and bring the perpetrators before justice;

2. Calls upon the government in Ramallah to take necessary measures to stop such violations and ensure respect for public liberties and press freedoms, which are guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights standards; and

3. Calls upon the security services to respect human rights that are guaranteed under domestic laws and international standards.

:: Article nr. 107696 sent on 18-jun-2014 20:16 ECT


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