The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) denounces the Palestinian government’s response towards the sit-in, which was organized by teachers at public schools on Tuesday, 23 February 2016, in front of the Council of Ministers in Ramallah. The sit-in was in protest at the government’s not responding to their legitimate demands, and to call for the resignation of Ahmad Suhweil, a Secretary-General of the Palestinian Teachers Union. Moreover, PCHR calls upon the Palestinian government to respect the Union’s right to function freely according to the Palestinian Basic Law and all international human rights standards and to fulfill its obligations by implementing the 2013 agreement reached with the Union.
According to PCHR’s investigations in the West Bank, on Tuesday early morning, Palestinian Security Services established checkpoints at the entrances to the Palestinian cities in order to stop the public transportation buses and taxies, check the passengers’ ID Cards and order teachers to step out of to prevent them from reaching Ramallah and participating in the sit-in. Moreover, the Palestinian Security Services established similar checkpoints at the entrances to Ramallah and al-Bireh to deny teachers access to them.
In the south of the West Bank, the Palestinian Security Services established checkpoints at the entrances to Dura village, southwest of Hebron, in Ras al-Joura area, at the northern entrance to Hebron; in Farsh al-Hawa area at the western entrance of the city and al-Nabi Yunis village, north of Hebron. Furthermore, they established similar checkpoints in Beit Jala, Beit Sahour and al-‘Abedyia village, east of Bethlehem. Videos posted on social media showed how teachers, who were coming from Hebron, were forced to step out of a bus and prevent them from getting into another bus with an Israeli registration plate. A bus driver from Beit Kahel village, west of Hebron, said to a PCHR’s fieldworker that officers of the Preventive Security Services (PSS) and Palestinian police stopped him at a joint checkpoint established in Ras al-Joura area and forced the teachers to step out of his bus. During which, officers of the Road Safety Police confiscated the bus license.
In Ramallah and al-Bireh, the Palestinian Security Services established checkpoints at the entrances to Ramallah and al-Bireh, searched the vehicles and checked the passengers’ ID Cards. Moreover, they held the ID cards and licenses of whom they suspected to be teachers and bus drivers and prevented them from reaching Ramallah and participating in the sit-in. Many buses carrying teachers were denied access to where the sit-in was organized.
In Tulkarm on Monday, 23 February 2016, Palestinian security services phone called all buses companies and warned their owners to punish them if any bus in Ramallah reaches the Garages Compound. At approximately 07:30, large force of Palestinian security officers deployed in the main Garages Compound near Shweikah Intersection to make sure that no buses from Tulkarm-Ramllah line were there. The security officers also held the ID card and license of a driver working for al-Tamimi Buses Company because he did not obey the orders and carried passengers in the bus. The security officers also checked the ID cards of all passengers, who headed to Ramallah via cars from the compound, aiming at denying teachers’ access to Ramallah. Since the early morning, Palestinian security forces established a checkpoint on Nablus Road near Nour al-Shams refugee camp, east of the city and another one in the middle of the same street, east of ‘Anabta village. The security officers stationed at both checkpoints stopped all public transportation vehicles and checked the passengers’ ID cards, causing traffic congestion.
In Jenin, Palestinian security officers established a checkpoint at the southern entrance to the city (Nablus-Jenin Road) near Jannat Park, where large forces of security officers deployed. The Palestinian security officers revoked the ID card and license of a driver working for Qabatia Transport Company, with which a group of teachers contracted to take them to Ramallah, when the driver was near the Directorate of Education in al-Zahrah neighborhood. Moreover, another bus from the same company was also stopped in the center of Jenin.
In Nablus, the Palestinian security services established a checkpoint on al-Quds Road leading to Ramallah and another one on al-Far’ah-Nablus Road, south of Tubas. In Qalqilya, Palestinian security officers established checkpoints at the eastern entrance to Qalqilya; the northern entrance to ‘Azoun village and Intersection of Kafr Laqef village. Moreover, two other checkpoints were established at the entrance to Salfit and the entrance to Bedia village, northwest of the city. The security officers at the aforementioned checkpoints stopped vehicles and asked if there were teachers in them prevent them from reaching Ramallah.
PCHR calls upon the Palestinian government and law enforcement services to:
- Respect the rule of law and provisions of the amended Palestinian Basic Law, including the third and fourth paragraphs of Article 25 that ensures the union’s right to function freely and to strike within the limits of law;
- Respect its legal obligations resulting from acceding to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which guarantees the respect and protection of union’s right to function freely and to strike in conformity with the applicable law; and
- Implement the agreement reached in September 2013 between the government and teachers to improve the teachers’ economic and social conditions.