PCHR Follows with Concern Security Services Forcible Dispersal of Peaceful Protest in Ramallah
Date: 25 June 2021
Time: 17:00 GMT
Yesterday afternoon, Palestinian Security Services dispersed a peaceful assembly organized by representatives of Palestinian factions and human rights organizations in central Ramallah, protesting the death of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat, who died Friday morning during his arrest by Palestinian security services in Hebron. Palestinian security officers fired teargas canisters at the protestors. As a result, one of them sustained shrapnel wounds in his head, while many protestors suffocated due to teargas inhalation. Moreover, the security officers beat one of the participants in the assembly and pushed a female journalist, took her cellphone and prevented her from covering the assembly.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) calls on the Palestinian government to take the necessary measures to stop such violations and respect public and press freedoms that are guaranteed constitutionally and according to international human rights standards.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 13:00 on Thursday, 24 June 2021, a peaceful protest organized by representatives of Palestinian factions and human rights organizations took off from the central of al-Manara square in Ramallah, towards the Presidential Compound (Al Muqata’a) on al-Ersal Street, protesting at the death of Palestinian activist Nizar Banat earlier that day, during his arrest by Palestinian security services. The protestors held Banat’s photos, chanted slogans calling for the trial of those responsible for Banat’s death and called upon the Palestinian President to leave. Afterwards, a large force of security services arrived to disperse the protestors. According to PCHR’s field worker’s testimony, the protestors tried to reach al Muqata’a in al-Ersal neighborhood, north of Ramallah, but security officers prevented them and threw teargas canisters at them. After that, clashes erupted between the protestors and security officers, during which, the protestors threw stones at the officers. Firing teargas canisters at the protestors resulted in the injury of Mohammed Jaber Hamad (29), with teargas canister shrapnel in his forehead. Hamad was then taken to Arab Care Hospital for treatment. Also, many protestors suffocated due to teargas inhalation. Furthermore, the security officers severely beat Hitham Mohammed Nizar Sayyaj (22) with sticks and batons. Sayyaj said to PCHR’s fieldworker that a large force of security services established checkpoints on al-Ersal Street to deny protestors’ access to al Muqata’a. He added that fist fights erupted between the security officers and protestors as the latter attempted to reach al Muqata’a. The security officers heavily fired teargas canisters at the protestors. Sayyaj said that when he attempted to counter the officers, two of them beat him with sticks and batons on his body. Sayyaj tried to stand up, but a security officer beat him with a baton on his head. The protestors present in front of the checkpoint established by security officers continued to chant slogans condemning Palestinian authority and supporting the late Nizar Banat. Meanwhile, one of the officers assaulted journalist Najlaa’ Zaytoun (36), confiscated her cellphone, prevented her from photographing, and pushed her. After a verbal altercation between them, she got her cellphone back. The protest continued until 18:00.
At approximately 20:00 on the same day, the protests renewed, as a peaceful protest took off from the center of al-Manara square towards al Muqata’a in al-Ersal neighborhood. The protestors gathered in front of the checkpoint established there by security officers and chanted slogans: “ Open the street.. open the street”, “Down with military control,” and “Salute Nizar.”. Afterwards, the security officers heavily fired teargas canisters to disperse the protestors, but no casualties were reported.
Following the Friday prayer, thousands of Palestinians participated in Banat’s funeral in Hebron, during which gunmen opened fire in the sky and there were no security officers in the area. The funeral ended, and no incidents were reported.
PCHR emphasizes that the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed according to the Palestinian Basic Law and the international human rights standards.
PCHR stresses that Palestinian authority should respect the constitution and its international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, which ensures the right to peaceful assembly.
PCHR calls on the Palestinian Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister of Interior, to restrict the security services’ abuse of rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Palestinian Basic Law and international laws binding to Palestine.