PCHR Calls upon Security Services to Stop Summonses and Arrests on Political Grounds, Emphasizing that Freedom of Political Participation is Right Guaranteed
Today and yesterday, The Interior Security Service (ISS) in the Gaza Strip summoned dozens of Fatah Members on grounds of calling for the celebration of the 54th anniversary of founding Fatah Movement, which marks Tuesday, 01 January, and ordered them not to organize any event for this occasion. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns these summonses and emphasizes that the freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and political participation are rights guaranteed in the Palestinian Basic Law, particularly Articles 19 and 26, and shall not be prejudiced under any pretext. PCHR also calls upon the security services to completely stop the arrest and summons campaign on grounds of political affiliation.
According to PCHR’s investigations, the ISS summons campaign has targeted today and yesterday dozens of Fatah Movement members throughout the Gaza Strip, including secretaries, members of governorate and area committees, and other activists. The security services released some of the arrestees while others are so far under arrest, forcing them not to hold any event or ceremony to commemorate the founding of Fatah Movement. Some of those detained and later released said that they were summoned by ISS via phone calls to refer to the ISS offices; each according to his residency, and were threatened in the office of holding any activity. Some officials and Governorate Committee Members said that they received calls on their cell phones from persons claiming they were ISS officers and informing them that any event on the occasion of the Fatah founding has been banned.
Eyad Subhi Safi (37), Member of Fatah Revolutionary Council, said that at approximately 10:30 on Sunday, he received a call informing him to refer immediately to the ISS office in western Khan Younis, where they told him that any event or activities relevant to the commemoration of Fatah Founding either in universities or other places is banned. Safi added that members of Fatah movement in Khan Younis also received calls on their cell phones from persons identifying themselves as ISS officers and informing them of banning any event relevant to this occasion and so threatening them of holding any.
PCHR reiterates its rejection of the arrests and summonses on grounds of political affiliation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and expresses its concern over summoning dozens of Fatah activities and preventing them of holding any event to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of Fatah Movement. Thus, PCHR:
- Emphasizes that the arrests by the Palestinian Authority’s security services against the Hamas Movement activists in the West Bank that is also condemned by PCHR would not justify the arrests by the authorities in the Gaza Strip against Fatah Movement activists;
- Emphasizes that personal freedom is a natural right that is ensured and cannot be prejudiced” according to the Palestinian Basic Law, which also prohibits “arresting , checking, detaining or restricting the movement of a person without a judicial warrant,” and “whoever is arrested or detained must be informed of the reasons of his arrest or detention;”
- Emphasizes that the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed in the Palestinian Basic Law and the international human rights standards;
- stresses that the right to peaceful assembly only requires a written notification to be sent to a Police Director or the Governor according to Article 3 of the Public Meetings Law 12/1998. Mroeover, Violating this condition is not enough for dispersing the demonstration or arresting the organizers unless the demonstration included riots;
- Stresses that calling for a demonstration does not constitute in any way a crime or basis for a summons even if the demonstration has not met the procedures; and
- Calls upon the Attorney General to intervene immediately to stop such summons campaigns without a warrant issued by the Public Prosecution and without any real basis that proves occurrence of a crime or an incident that requires a summons; and
- Calls upon PCHR and security services in the Gaza Strip to respect the Palestinian Law and Public Freedoms and comply with the Criminal Procedure Law.