PCHR Condemns Forcible Dispersion of Peaceful Set-in by Security Services in Gaza


The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the dispersion of a women’s sit-in by security services and the detention of a female participant.  PCHR is concerned about the repeated occurrence of such attacks in the Gaza Strip, and calls upon the local authorities to seriously investigate the incident, and to respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to peaceful assembly, which are guaranteed under Palestinian laws and international human rights standards.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 11:00 on Tuesday, 02 October 2012, the Palestinian police, including female officers, dispersed a women’s sit-in at Unknown Soldier Square, near the premises of the Palestinian Legislative Council in the west of Gaza City. The sit-in was organized by the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW), in cooperation with a number of women’s organizations which are calling for Palestinian national reconciliation.  The Center for Women’s Legal Research and Consulting sent an official notice to the police on Sunday, 30 September 2012 advising them that the sit-in would be taking place, but the police command rejected the notice for “security reasons.”

Female police arrested Muna Abdul Rahman Hamad (52), Director of the GUPW’s office in the northern Gaza Strip, while she was participating in the sit-in. She was taken to a police station, where she was questioned.  She was then forced to sign an oath, committing not to participate in future demonstrations and public activities.  She was released three hours later.

In another similar incident, on Tuesday, 25 September 2012, the Palestinian police forcibly dispersed a spontaneous demonstration in al-Bureij refugee camp in the Middle Area of the Gaza Strip, which was protesting electricity outages.  The demonstration followed an incident in which a fire broke out in the al-Bughdadi family home, where the family was using candles during a power-cut.  3-year-old Fathi Abdul Fattah al-Bughdadi was killed, and his 8-month-old sister, Tala, was seriously injured.

She was later pronounced dead, on 01 October 2012.  According to testimonies obtained by PCHR, at approximately 22:00 on Tuesday, 25 September 2012, a large crowd of people gathered in the vicinity of the al-Bughdadi family’s house to protest continuing electricity outages.  The crowd set fire to car tires.  The police arrived at the area and used force to disperse the gathering, violently beating a number of participants in the protest and firing shots into the air.

At approximately 23:00, Ismail Jamal Badah, a cameraman for Palestine Today Channel, was beaten by persons who introduced themselves as members of the Internal Security Service (ISS), while he was covering the protest.  A number of persons were also injured as a result of being beaten by the police; they were transferred to al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah.

A number of persons from al-Bureij refugee camp were later arrested by Palestinian police and the ISS due to their participation in the protest.  Following his release, one of the detainees stated to PCHR that he was subjected to beating and torture during interrogation.  PCHR keeps the detainee’s name on file.

PCHR condemns these attacks by security services and:

1.     Calls upon the Public Prosecution to seriously investigate these attacks, especially incidences of beating and torture, and publish the results of such investigations;

2.     Calls upon the local authorities in Gaza to respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to peaceful assembly, which are guaranteed under Palestinian law and international human rights standards; and

3.     Recalls similar incidents in the past, for which no results of investigations were released, and stresses that the criminal responsibility of the perpetrators of such attacks is not subject to a statute of limitations, and the incidents may be investigated at any time, according to the Palestinian Basic Law.


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