Palestinian student Baraa al-Amer, former prisoner held in Israeli jails and a trainee at the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, is currently being detained by the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence service, reported his family. Al-Amer is apparently the latest Palestinian to be detained for posting critical commentary about the Palestinian Authority leadership on his social media and Facebook accounts and pursued for prosecution or detention under the widely-criticized “Electronic Crimes Law.” He has announced that he is engaged in an open hunger strike.
Even 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 as well as Palestinian youth activists like Ahmed Abdel-Aziz. 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 earlier this week, also in the context of the law. A number of journalists have been interrogated and detained for publishing critical material about the PA as well.
Baraa al-Amer is the son of journalist Nawaf al-Amer, who told Quds News that his son had been beaten during his seizure by the security forces and that his lawyer had witnessed bruises on his body and other injuries due to his ill-treatment and abuse at the hands of PA security forces. These are the same security forces responsible for security coordination with the Israeli occupation against Palestinian activists and ressitance figures and organizations.
Al-Amer said that the Palestinian public prosecution had actually rejected charges against his son for his Facebook posts and ordered him released, only for the PA intelligence agencies to refuse to release him and continue to detain him. He said that this is a personal attempt at retaliation from PA intelligence officials and urged human rights activists to call for Baraa al-Amer’s release.
Baraa al-Amer is a law student at An-Najah University who previously served a 10-month sentence in Israeli prison for his student activism for the Palestinian cause. Prior to his seizure by occupation forces, he had been jailed by the PA in Nablus and Bethlehem.
For its part, EuroMed denounced the arrest of its trainee Baraa al-Amer; the institution has been vocal on the subject of the repression of Palestinian freedom of expression via the “Electronic Crimes Law.” EuroMed noted that it is “closely monitoring the ongoing arbitrary detention of its trainee in law, An-Najah University law student Baraa al-Amer, for the third consecutive day, despite the decision of the Palestinian public prosecutor to release him.” EuroMed noted their concern that the reason al-Amer is not being released is because of the visible bruising and injuries on his body noted by his lawyer.
Al-Amer was arrested alongside seven more students at An-Najah University, all fellow student activists; the university semester only began one week ago.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network strongly denounces the arrest of Baraa al-Amer and demands his immediate release and the release of all political detainees. In addition, we join and support the Palestinian calls to cancel the dangerous and unlawful “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, the clear context of the political detentions of Baraa al-Amer, Ahmed Abdel-Aziz and other voices of conscience.