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PCHR Follows with Concern Civilians Arrested on Grounds of Peaceful Assembly

Ref: 55/2020

Date: 14 June 2020

Time: 11:15 GMT


The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) follows with concern the summonsing and arrest of several Fatah Movement leaders and members by the Palestinian Security Services (PSS) on grounds of calling for peaceful assembly on the 14th anniversary of the internal Palestinian division, north of the Gaza Strip. PCHR condemns these arrests 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 calls upon PSS to completely stop the arrests and summonses on grounds of political affiliation or freedom of expression.

According to PCHR’s investigations, over the past 4 days PSS summonsed several Fatah Movement leaders and cadres from the northern Gaza Strip on grounds of calling for peaceful assembly on social media on the 14th anniversary of the internal Palestinian division between Hamas and Fatah parties in the Gaza Strip. Among those arrestees, PCHR identified: Aqel Ahmed Hashem al-Sheikh Khalil (46), his brother Emad (41), Dia’ Ahmed Mahmoud Jaber (46), Jamal Abdul Shafi’e Jamal al-Dahnoun (22), Mazen Ibrahim Abu Zir (46), Haitham Abu Fares (40), and Mohammed Tal’at al-Najjar (27). Some of the arrestees were released after a few hours and the rest of them were released on 14 June.

Last week, on Thursday 11 June 2020, dozens of Fatah leaders and supporters gathered at approximately 17:00 in front of Jamal Abd Rabbo Abu al-Jidian’s house, on Abu al-Jidian roundabout in Beit Lahia Housing Project, north of the Gaza Strip, to commemorate his death as he was killed during the clashes between Hamas and Fatah in 2007. The participants headed to the Beit Lahiya cemetery and put a wreath on his grave and the grave of his brother, Majed, who was killed in the same incident, then they quietly left without any commotion.

Afterwards, a number of civilians were arrested on grounds of their participation in the event, the arrestees’ families confirmed that PSS carried out the arrest campaign. At approximately 00:00, on Friday, 12 June 2020, they arrested Fahed Ramadan Abd Rabbo Abu al-Jidian (29), from Beit Lahia Housing Project, while walking near al-Barawi Petrol Station on Beit Lahia Main Street, and he was taken to an unknown destination. At approximately 21:00, on Saturday, 13 June 2020, Eyad Fayez Ibrahim Abu al-Jidian (44), from Jabalia camp, received a call from someone who identified himself as a PSS officer and ordered him to refer to their office immediately. Upon his arrival, Abu al-Jidian was detained and taken to PSS headquarters in Ansar area, western Gaza City. At approximately 22:00 on the same day, a PSS force headed to Iissa Abdul Hai Hasan Darwish’s (42) house, Beit Lahia Housing Project, and took him to the PSS office in northern Gaza Strip.

As of writing this press release, Fahed Abu al-Jidian’s whereabouts remain unknown; whereas Eyad Abu al-Jidian and Issa Darwish are still detained by PSS.

PCHR expresses its concern over citizen-arrests on grounds of political activates, and stresses that personal freedom is a natural right that is ensured and cannot be prejudiced according to the Palestinian Basic Law, which also prohibits “arresting, searching, detaining or restricting the movement of a person without a judicial warrant,” and that “whoever is arrested or detained must be informed of the reasons of his arrest or detention.”

PCHR emphasizes that the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed in the Palestinian Basic Law and under international human rights standards; stressing 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, if the number of participants exceeded 50. Moreover, violating this condition is not enough for dispersing the demonstration or arresting the organizers unless the demonstration included riots.

Thus, PCHR calls upon the Attorney General to intervene immediately to stop such summons and arrests 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. PCHR also calls upon PSS in the Gaza Strip to respect the Palestinian law and public freedoms and adhere to the Palestinian Criminal Procedure Code and Palestinian Basic Law.