Date: 20 April 2008
Time: 09:00 GMT
PCHR Condemns Attacking a Journalist and Preventing Supporters of Fatah Movement from Organizing a Peaceful Demonstration in Rafah
PCHR strongly condemns forcible prevention by the police of supporters of Fatah movement from organizing a peaceful demonstration, and the prevention of a cameraman of al-Aalam Satellite Channel from working in Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, 18 April 2008. PCHR calls for a serious investigation into these attacks to bring the perpetrators to justice. PCHR further stresses that the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are ensured by the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 13:30 on Friday, 18 April 2008, following the Friday Prayer, a number of supporters of Fatah movement gathered at al-‘Awda Square in the center of Rafah town to participate in a demonstration organized in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on the Palestinian Prisoners Day. Immediately, dozens of police officers deployed in the area and prevented supporters of Fatah movement from organizing their demonstrations. The police beat them and opened fire into the air to disperse them. They also arrested 2 supporters of Fatah movement, but released them later following the intervention of other parties.
Police officers stopped ‘Emad al-‘Ajrami, a cameraman of al-Aalam Satellite Channel, as he was intending to photograph the demonstration. They forcibly confiscated his camera. In his testimony to PCHR, al-‘Ajrami stated:
“A number of individuals wearing civilian clothes came to me when I was in a civilian car. I was waiting for the Friday Prayer to be ended to photograph a demonstration called for by Fatah movement on the Palestinian Prisoners Day. They introduced themselves as members of the Criminal Investigation Bureau. They forcibly confiscated my camera. Immediately, I went together with Mustafa Abul Hadi, Correspondent of al-Arabiya Satellite Channel, to the police station in the town. There, an officer ordered us not to photograph the demonstration and gave us the camera.”
In light of the above:
1) PCHR Strongly condemns the prevention of peaceful demonstrations in the Gaza Strip, and the use of force in dispersing demonstrators, including the use of batons and other forms of violence and inhumane treatment.
2) PCHR stresses that people have the rights to organize peaceful assemblies, public meetings and demonstrations in accordance with the law.
3) PCHR expresses utmost concern over the recurrence of violations of the right to freedom of expression and press freedoms, and calls for providing protection to journalists and the media to be able to work freely.
4) PCHR calls upon the dismissed government in the Gaza Strip to investigate these attacks, holding the perpetrators accountable and take serious measures to ensure their non-recurrence.