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With Great Shock and Sorrow, PCHR Condemns Murder of Italian Activist, Vittorio Arrigoni

Ref: 33/2011


With great shock and sorrow, the Palestinian Centre
for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the murder of Italian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni. On Friday morning, 15 April 2011, Vittorio’s
body was found in an abandoned house in the north of the Gaza Strip, following
his murder at the hands of kidnappers.



The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and
its entire staff, gravely condemns this crime, which targets our inherent human
dignity, and the values and traditions of the lawful struggle for freedom and
justice. It is this human struggle which connects Gazan’s – locked behind the
closed door of the Gaza Strip – with the outside world, and inspires countless
individuals to stand as human rights defenders. 


PCHR calls upon the government in Gaza to prosecute
the perpetrators. Furthermore, all
necessary measures must be taken to secure the safety of international
activists in the Gaza Strip.


According to investigations conducted by PCHR, on
Thursday evening, 14 April 2011, a group named "Group of the Companion
Mohammed Bin Maslamah" announced the kidnapping of the Italian journalist,
Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, a prominent member of the International Solidarity
Movement (ISM) and a human rights defender. In a video posted on the Youtube website, the group demanded the release
of detained members of the group, affiliates of the so-called "Salafist
Jihadist Group". The kidnappers
threatened to kill Arrigoni if the government in Gaza did not meet their
demands within 30 hours. 


In a grave development, contrary to fundamental values
shared by all Palestinians, the group carried out their threat. On Friday morning, 15 April 2011, security
services found the body of Arrigoni in a house located in the ‘Amer project
area, west of al-Karamah building in the west of Jabalia, north of the Gaza
Strip. In his testimony, a PCHR staff-member
reported signs of beating on the victim’s face, signs of handcuffs on his hands,
and signs of strangulation around his neck.

The Ministry of Interior in Gaza issued a press
release on Friday, condemning this heinous crime. It declared the arrest of two members of the
group and the continued search for others. 


Arrigoni had worked in Gaza since 2008, when he arrived
on board the "Free Gaza" flotilla, organized to break the closure
imposed on the Gaza Strip. He devoted
himself to the defense of Palestinians’ rights, and participated in a number of
activities against the closure, against violations committed by Israeli Forces against
Palestinian civilians, particularly fishermen, and against the Israeli decision
to impose a ‘buffer zone’ in the Gaza Strip.  He was arrested by Israel forces on18 November
2008, while he was accompanying a number of fishermen off the shores of Deir
al-Balah, central Gaza Strip. However,
he returned to Gaza a few months later via Rafah International Crossing.
Arrigoni was also in the West Bank for a few years before coming to Gaza. He has been known for his activity with the
International Solidarity Movement.


PCHR reiterates its condemnation of this heinous
crime, and:

1. Calls upon the government in Gaza to conduct an
effective and prompt investigation to identify the circumstances of the crime,
prosecute the perpetrators, and publish the investigations’ results;

2. Appreciates the role played by the International
Solidarity Movement and other human rights defenders in the occupied
Palestinian territory;

3. Calls upon the international community, political
powers and Palestinian people to condemn this crime and organize peaceful
activities against it.