Prominent Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro remains jailed by Palestinian Authority Preventive Security services as a growing international campaign is demanding his release. Amro, of Youth Against Settlements in al-Khalil, is widely known around the world for his advocacy and popular organizing in the city against Israeli occupation and settler attacks. He is simultaneously being prosecuted by an Israeli military court for his role in popular demonstrations against military occupation and illegal settlements.
At the same time that Amro’s detention was extended, Palestinian journalist Ayman al-Qawasmeh of Manbar al-Hurriyeh radio, was released by the PA security services after three days of detention. Qawasmeh was seized after criticizing PA officials, including PA president Mahmoud Abbas, after his radio station was invaded and its contents damaged and confiscated by Israeli occupation forces, forcibly shutting down the station’s broadcast. Amro was originally seized by PA forces after denouncing the arrest of Qawasmeh, also of al-Khalil.
Amro’s detention was extended for 24 hours even as he announced an open hunger strike for his freedom. Youth Against Settlements has organized an online petition for his release: http://www.yashebron.org/free_issa_from_pa_arrest
Palestinian and international organizations, including the Freedoms Committee, Amnesty International, and the Palestinian NGO Network, have called for Amro’s release.
The cases of Qawasmeh and Amro are only the latest cases in a series of repressive arrests carried out by PA forces under the new “Electronic Crimes Law.” The “Electronic Crimes Law” has been widely condemned by political parties and organizations throughout occupied Palestine.
The PA law, which attempts to criminalize Palestinian political expression on Facebook and in the media, comes alongside systematic Israeli attacks on Palestinian expression, including the persecution of hundreds of Palestinians for their posts on social media and the jailing of teens, journalists and elders in Israeli occupation prisons. It also comes in the framework of ongoing PA “security coordination” with Israel at the expense of Palestinian freedom fighters and organizers.
Amnesty International has joined the denunciation of the law created by decree of PA president Mahmoud Abbas, due to its use against journalists and writers. Zaher al-Shammali and Nassar Jaradat were subject to detention for Facebook posts critical of PA officials, and Palestinian-American activist Mashal Alkouk was detained for several days last week, also in the context of the law, as was youth activist Ahmed Abdel-Aziz. A number of journalists have been interrogated and detained for publishing critical material about the PA as well.
The “Electronic Crimes Law” goes so far as to threaten sentences of hard labor against people convicted of committing “offenses” with the “purpose of disturbing public order…or harming national unity.” Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association has published a lengthy analysis of the dangers posed by the law.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network joins Youth Against Settlements, Amnesty International and numerous others in demanding the immediate release of Issa Amro. We also call for the immediate release of all PA political detainees and an end to the “Electronic Crimes Law” and the ongoing attacks on Palestinian websites, journalists and activists. This law is particularly chilling in light of the ongoing Israeli targeting of Palestinian journalists, writers and organizers for expressing their opinion on social media and the context of PA security coordination with the Israeli occupation.
We also join our voices with Palestinian organizations and activists demanding an end to Palestinian Authority security coordination with the Israeli occupation.
Sign the petition to support Issa Amro’s release: http://www.yashebron.org/free_issa_from_pa_arrest