PALESTINE: PCHR Condemns the Attacks on Peaceful Assemblies in Gaza and Hebron

Thursday, November 15, 2012
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The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the Palestinian female police's violent dispersal of a women's sit-in in front of the headquarters of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service (PPS) in Hebron. PCHR also condemns the detention of eight civilians participating yesterday in a peaceful sit-in organized by female activists by security services in Gaza; PCHR further condemns the assaulting of some of these civilians. PCHR calls upon the public prosecutors in Ramallah and Gaza to open serious investigations into these attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 15:00 on Tuesday, 13 November 2012, about 20 women and children from al-Sherbaty family, accompanied by journalist Lama Abdul-Motaleb Khater, gathered in front of the PPS headquarters in Hebron to protest the continued detention of Ra'ed Hmaydan al-Sharbaty (43), from Hebron, by the PSS, pursuant to a court order. At approximately 20:00, members of the Palestinian female police came out of the headquarters dressed in civilian clothes and attacked the participating women and children,kicking and slapping themin order to disperse the crowd. As a result of this attack, Obaida Ra'ed al-Sharbaty (4) and Toqa Hesham al-Sharbaty (12) sustained bruises and scratches, and were transported to the Hebron Public Hospital for treatment.Journalists Lama Khater and Basha'er Hisham al-Sherbaty were beaten as well.

It should be mentioned that the PSS had arrested al-Sherbaty on 08 November 2012, and he has been on hunger strike since then. He was transported to the Hebron Public Hospital on Tuesday, 12 November 2012, after his health conditions had deteriorated due to his hunger strike.

In the same context, at approximately 12:30 on Tuesday, 13 November 2012, dozens of female activists organized a peaceful sit-in in the Unknown Soldier Square, near the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in the western part of Gaza City, calling for an end to the Palestinian division.After the sit-in ended, police officers, who were heavily deployed in the area, detained 8 male civilians who were present in the area to support the participants' demands. The detained civilians, who were beaten by security officers, were identified as: Mahmoud Khalaf, member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP); Khaled Abu-Sharekh; Saif-Edin Shaheen; Mohammad Waqfa; Ayman Karzim; Soultan Shobair; Talal Abu-Zarifa; and Nabil Diab, a leader of the National Initiative. The police released these individuals later the same day.

In his testimony to a PCHR fieldworker, Mahmoud Mohammad Khalaf, one of the released detainees, said:

At approximately 12:00, I went to the Unknown Soldier Square to participate in the weekly sit-in organized by the General Union of Palestinian Women and women's NGOs. A large number of police officers were present in the Square, banning people from reaching the sit-in. I managed to reach the sit-in through the northern entrance and participated in the activity. While I was leaving the square, after the sit-in ended, I was intercepted by members of the police investigation bureau,who asked me to accompany them.When I refused to go with them, they forcefully led me to the al-Jawazat police station, where I was beaten, along with 4 other detainees.A half an hour later, I was released following an intervention by leaders of the DFLP.

PCHR condemns the continued violations of the right to peaceful assembly, and:

1- Calls upon both governments in Gaza and Ramallah to take necessary measures to stop violations of public liberties, and to respect the right to hold public meetings and the right to freedom of opinion and expression, ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights standards;

2- Emphasizes that the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed under Article (26-5) of the Palestinian Basic Law and Law No. 12/1998 on Public Meetings; and

3- Calls upon the Public Prosecution to open serious investigations into these attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice.