PA arrests anti-corruption activists

The detainees have gone on hunger strike in protest of their detention.

THE PALESTINIAN flag flies at a Palestinian Authority diplomatic post. (photo credit: REUTERS)
THE PALESTINIAN flag flies at a Palestinian Authority diplomatic post.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority security forces on Sunday arrested a number of anti-corruption activists for holding an “illegal” protest in the center of Ramallah.
The detainees have gone on hunger strike in protest of their detention.
Seven of the detained activists were held on Monday in custody for 48 hours on charges of holding an “illegal gathering and violating the state of emergency” imposed by the PA to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The activists are: Fayez Sweity, Ali Abu Diab, Mubtasem al-Sheikh, Osama al-Azouni, Firas Baryoush, Jamil Abu Kabbash and Musa Qaisiyeh.
Sunday’s protest was held under the banner “Enough is Enough” as part of a campaign against rampant corruption in PA institutions, one of the organizers told The Jerusalem Post.
“We wanted to express our rejection of corruption in a civilized and peaceful manner,” he said. “The Palestinian security forces detained 23 people who participated in the protest in Ramallah.”
One of the anti-corruption activists condemned the arrest of his colleagues and called on the PA to release them immediately.
“The Palestinian security forces were placed on high alert because of the protest,” he said. “Although they prevented us from raising our voice against corruption, we will continue our campaign against all forms of corruption.”
A group called The Civic League for the Protection of the Constitution said that the arrests were an unjustified assault on a peaceful protest.
“We express our shock at the growing intolerance toward the people’s right to hold peaceful gatherings and freedom of expression,” the group said. “These rights are protected in accordance with the Palestinian Basic Law. We call for the immediate release of the detainees and strongly warn against the practices [of the PA security forces].”
Another Palestinian group, Lawyers for Justice, said that the Ramallah event was organized to protest against nepotism in PA institutions, particularly in wake of the appointment of relatives of Palestinian officials to senior positions in a number of ministries.
The group said that the PA security forces last week detained a number of anti-corruption activists and human rights activists, including Sweity, Muhanad Karajeh and Musa Mualla. The arrests were part of an attempt to obstruct the work of human rights advocates, “especially in light of the increased repression and arbitrary detention of [political] activists,” the group said. “This is a blatant infringement of the law, a violation of the state of emergency and a violation of human rights guaranteed by national laws and human rights constitutions.”