Ref: 122/2012


The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
condemns the police’s prevention of the organization of 2 events on the
anniversary of the death of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in
al-Quds Open University in Rafah and al-Azhar University in Gaza City.  PCHR also condemns the summoning of a number
of university students by the Internal Security Service.  PCHR calls upon the government in Gaza to
respect the right to hold private and public meetings, which is ensured under
the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights standards.


According to investigations conducted by PCHR
and testimonies provided by eyewitnesses, at approximately 10:00 on Sunday 11
November 2012, a Palestinian police force of 6 officers raided the campus of
al-Quds Open University/Rafah branch in al-Junainah neighborhood in Rafah.  The police officers removed and cut portraits
of the late President Yasser Arafat displayed in the university campus and
dispersed approximately 40 students gathered in the yard to commemorate the anniversary
of Arafat’s death.  They also arrested Hassan
‘Aabed ‘Aabed and took him to a detention center in the town.  ‘Aabed was released at approximately 17:00
that same day.  The Youth Student
Movement, the student wing of the Fatah Movement, called for portraits of the
late President to be put up and for candles to be lite inside the university
campus to commemorate his death.


On Saturday, 10 November 2012, the Internal
Security Service summoned 6 university students and confiscated their ID cards.
 One of the students stated to PCHR’s
staff that none of them were questioned because of the security situation in
the Gaza Strip and the evacuation of security sites; however, they subsequently
received new appointments.


In the same context, Dr. Ayman Shahin, a lecturer
in al-Azhar University in Gaza and a member of its Employees’ Union, stated to
PCHR’s staff that university security officers from the Palestinian police came
to the university’s administration at approximately 10:30 on Sunday to inform
them of an order to stop any event at the university occurring for the anniversary
of President Arafat’s death.  Shahin
added that police officers also informed the administration that they had
orders to prevent any event on this occasion.  The university’s Employees’ Union had called
for people to mark this occasion on the university’s campus, an event which
started at 11:00 on Sunday morning and continued for an hour.


It should be noted that officers from the police
and the Internal Security Service, accompanied by female police officers,
dispersed by force a women’s sit-in on Tuesday, 06 November 2012, in which
dozens of activist’s participated, calling for an end to the political division.  In a statement published on its website, the Ministry
of the Interior in Gaza stated: “Rejecting the wrong behavior by some police
officers, the Ministry of the Interior declares, based on a decision by the
Minister, the formation of a high-profile investigation committee from the Ministry…
and the results of the investigation will be declared with full transparency
and clarity.”


PCHR severely condemns the intervention of security
services to stop events that are part of the right to peaceful assembly, and:


1- Calls upon the government in Gaza to stop violations of public
liberties and take necessary measures to guarantee the right to hold public and
private meetings;

2- Emphasizes that people have the right to hold private and public
meetings ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law, the Public Meetings Law of
1998 and international human rights standards;

3- Calls upon the Ministry of Interior in Gaza to fulfill their
obligation to publish the results of the investigation that it opened into the
attacks by security officers and female police officers in Gaza against a
number of female activists who organized a peaceful sit-in last week; and

4- Calls upon the government in Gaza and its security services to
respect international human rights standards, the Palestinian Basic Law and
other relevant laws.