The Palestinian Center for Human rights (PCHR) condemns the Palestinian security services’ forcible dispersal of a peaceful protest in Ramallah yesterday. The dispersal was accompanied with arresting and attacking participants, including journalists, with sticks, heavily firing of tear gas canisters and shooting in the air. PCHR calls for a serious investigation into such attacks and bringing perpetrators to justice. PCHR further stresses that the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 12:00 on Sunday, 12 March 2017, Palestinian activists organized a protest in front of the Courts Complex in al-Balou’a neighborhood in al-Bireh as the court was considering the case of Basel al-‘A’raj, who was killed by Israeli forces a week ago, and five others. The protestors stood on the pavement holding pictures of Basel and chanting slogans against the security coordination. The number of protestors then increased, and journalists started to arrive. The street was then closed from both directions, so Palestinian officers arrived at the area and threatened by force the protestors and journalists to stay away and break up the protest. After a short time, 20 police cars carrying out masked security officers with batons arrived. When the officers stepped out of the cars, altercations occurred between them and the protestors. The security officers then beat up the journalists and protestors and fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters. During this, special police officers and a person dressed in civilian clothes attacked the father of Basel al-A’araj. Moreover, a number of lawyers, including Farid al-Atrash who is a lawyer in the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), were attacked. Many journalists were attacked as well, including Mohammed Abu Shoushah, a photojournalist at Roya Television, and cameras belonging to some satellite channels were broken, including a camera belonging to Jihad Barakat, a reporter at Palestine Today. Furthermore, 6 persons were arrested in the Balou’a Investigation office and an hour later released after taking their personal data. In general, 16 persons were wounded by the security officers, but only 5 of whom were taken to the Palestine Medical Complex.
In this context, PCHR stresses that the right to peaceful assembly is constitutionally guaranteed under Article 26 (5) of the Palestinian Basic Law and in Public Meetings Law No. 12 /1998. Accordingly, PCHR:
- Calls upon the Attorney General to investigate those incidents, including attacking civilians and firing tear gas canisters at them, inspect the security officers’ violations, and hold those responsible accountable; and
- Calls upon the government in Ramallah to respect law and civilian’s dignity, stop the security services’ interference into the civil life and to take all necessary measures to respect public and press freedoms that are constitutionally ensured under the international human rights standards.