Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks with journalists at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council, a committee of 12 human rights groups, condemned on Wednesday the Palestinian Authority security forces’ assault of Muhannad Karajeh, a lawyer working for Addameer, a Palestinian human rights organization.
“The PHROC strongly condemns the beating of Addameer Prisoners Support attorney Muhannad Karajeh, as well as other Palestinian civilians, at the hands of plain-clothes Palestinian security forces on Tuesday,” the council said.
Karajeh and dozens of demonstrators participated in a march in Ramallah on Tuesday to memorialize Palestinians who have died in the Israel-Palestinian conflict over the past year, and to reject PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s participation in former president Shimon Peres’s funeral.
Karajeh told The Jerusalem Post that he frequently attends marches to document violations of freedom of protest and assembly.
According to Karajeh, the march was peaceful, until plain clothes PA security personnel participating in another march in support of Abbas approached and started beating demonstrators.
“I saw members of the Police’s Criminal Investigation Unit beating up a women over 50 years old and I went to protect her,” Karajeh remarked. “Then a member of the General Intelligence Directorate, whom I know because of my work as a human rights lawyer, grabbed me and he, a member of the Criminal Investigations Unit and a member of Fatah started beating my head, chest and legs.”
After suffering a number of wounds, Karajeh fled to a local hospital.
He believes that the PA security forces targeted him because he has publicly criticized them. “I frequently document violations of the security forces and have spoken to the media about them. I think they beat me because they want to intimidate me into stopping this kind of work.”
Karajeh represents six Palestinians who were held from April to September in PA prisons without charges.
PA security forces spokesman Adnan al-Damiri did not respond to phone calls from the Post for comment.
The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council also called on authorities to open an “immediate and impartial” investigation into the incident and “take effective measures to avoid the repeat of similar attacks in the future.”
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Lawyers Syndicate held a one-hour strike on Wednesday in front of the PA High Court of Justice in Ramallah, protesting the assault on Karajeh.
Hussein Shabanah, the chairman of the Lawyers Syndicate, told Watan News Agency that the “syndicate will not rest until the law is enforced,” emphasizing that it stands behind its members.
The Lawyers Syndicate has taken responsibility for filing a case against the PA security forces who assaulted Karajeh.
In its latest report on the West Bank, Freedom House, a democracy advocacy organization, rated the West Bank as “not free,” giving the Palestinian territory a 5.5 (out of seven) freedom rating.
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