High ranking Palestinian Authority officials ordered the suppression of protests in Ramallah against negotiations, rights groups said Monday.
The Council of Palestinian Human Rights Organizations on Monday announced the results of its inquiry into a crackdown on protesters who opposed a visit by Israel’s vice premier to Ramallah for talks with President Mahmoud Abbas.
Police violently suppressed the protest on June 30, and again used force to shut down a demonstration on July 1 against police brutality.
A previous investigation ordered by Abbas recommended that the police chief of Ramallah, the head of the Ramallah police station and the director of criminal investigations should be questioned by prosecutors over their failures in dealing with the protests. Abbas has yet to respond to that report.
But at a press conference in Ramallah on Monday, Al-Haq director Shawan Jabareen said that while the Ramallah police chief and his deputy had participated in the crackdown, they were acting on orders from a more senior official.
The probe by the coalition of rights groups found that orders to suppress the protest were issued by advisers in Abbas’ office. Officials in the president’s office ordered security forces to prevent demonstrators from reaching the presidential compound, the rights groups found.
Demonstrators were not threatening security or public order, so the use of violence was intended to prevent citizens from exercising their legitimate right to protest, the report said.
Police were deployed in plain clothes, causing difficulties in identifying them, and they used insulting language against demonstrators. Police also targeted journalists and violated press freedom by detaining and interrogating reporters on their work, the report noted.
Several journalists, including a Reuters cameraman, were manhandled, punched and struck with batons, resulting in four arrests and several injuries that required hospital treatment.
The coalition of rights groups sent an official request to police to respond to the report’s findings but police did not reply, Jabareen said.