UN Worried by High Rate of Arrests among Palestinian Activists

Israeli forces arrest Palestinian woman protesting land appropriation and the expansion of the Halamish settlement. (Photo: via Ma'an, file)

The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner published a press statement on December 17 2016, which denounced the “daily violations” of Palestinian human rights and international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The statement noted that the UN has received a “worrying number of complaints” by human rights activists in recent period of time. These complains, according to the statement, have highlighted the Israeli government practice of arbitrary detention against Palestinian activists “as a direct result of their important work in their communities.”

The case of Palestinian activist Issma Amro, who is based in Hebron and is active in the Youth Against Settlements group, was highlighted by the statement, in addition to the case of the Hebron-based lawyer Farid al-Atrash. They were both arrested for participating in a peaceful protest in February.

The two were arrested while participating in a march which commemorated the 22 years anniversary of opening fire on Muslim Palestinian worshipers by extremist American-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein, which claimed the lives of 29 and injuring more than 120 in Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque in 1994.

Amro is highly regarded by Palestinian and international activists for his role and commitment to nonviolent peaceful protest. “This relatively unusual practice of bringing up stale charges, which were not pursued many years ago, strongly suggests that Mr. Amro is being unfairly targeted due to his legitimate and peaceful human rights work,” the UN experts noted in Saturday’s statement.

The statement said Amro’s current trial was part of a “concerted pattern of harassment and intimidation by the Israeli authorities aimed at inhibiting his work as a human rights defender.”

“Charges of participation in a rally without a permit are nearly impossible to avoid for Palestinians in the West Bank who peacefully protest and oppose the almost 50 year-old occupation,” the statement said.

“We call on the Israeli authorities to ensure fair trial guarantees for human rights defenders and respect their unfettered exercise of fundamental freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association.”

“The right of all those who are seeking hope and participation in concrete, nonviolent action must be protected, particularly as we are seeing the deepening entrenchment of the Israeli occupation and the accompanying human rights violations.”

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

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