• January 26, 2009

HRW accuses Israel, PA, and Egypt of suppressing pro-Gaza rallies

HRW accuses Israel, PA, and Egypt of suppressing pro-Gaza rallies

Human Rights Watch has accused the Israeli occupation government, the PA in Rammallah city, and Egypt of banning peaceful rallies in support of Gaza Strip, describing such action as “absurd and illegal”.

The international group asserted that people should be given the freedom to express their feelings towards certain events in a peaceful way, which wasn’t permitted in some countries in the Middle East.

“Peaceful demonstrations are an essential element of democratic societies and the basic right of every citizen,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

She added, “Middle Eastern regimes are throwing one symbolic shoe at Israel while using the other shoe to strike at domestic dissent.”

HRW also said in its report that news reports accused the PA in the West Bank of banning pro-Hamas demonstrations shortly after Israel started its attacks on Gaza.

“Al Jazeera reported that on January 2, PA officials arrested demonstrators in Ramallah for waving Hamas flags, and clashed with student protesters in Bir Zeit on January 6. After the midday prayer on January 9, PA police in Ramallah fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of some 4,000 people, according to Al Jazeera.”

HRW also accused Israeli occupation of banning peaceful protests in the West Bank, the injury of one protestor and the report of a possible killing of a demonstrator.

In Egypt, the influential Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest opposition group in Egypt, has reported that 860 of its members have been arrested in recent days in connection with demonstrations protesting Israeli actions in Gaza. A January 16 demonstration in Tanta, north of Cairo, reportedly drew 15,000 participants. Police arrested eight journalists and beat some of them on December 31 while they were covering a demonstration in support of Gaza in Cairo”s Tahrir Square. They were later released.

Also in Cairo police on January 16 prevented a planned demonstration near the US embassy and arrested some activists gathering near the embassy. In the Sinai Peninsula.

Jordan, Saudi, Tunisia and Iran were also criticized by the HRW for denying their citizens the right to hold peaceful protests regarding the events in Gaza.