Protests, Hamas And Torture
Human Rights Watch has news of Hamas torturing Palestinians.
“Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Hamas police and plainclothes security officials prevented a demonstration at the Unknown Soldier square in Gaza City on February 28, 2011, without giving any reason, and detained and tortured one of the organizers, Ahmad Arar. Arar, 31, gave Human Rights Watch a detailed accounted of the abuse he said he suffered, an attempt, he said, to make him confess to being a Palestinian Authority agent. Since late February, Hamas internal security officials have threatened, confiscated equipment from, and repeatedly questioned young activists trying to organize similar protests for March 15, the activists said.
“The Hamas government has shown time and again that it cares little about the rights of Palestinians who peacefully challenge its policies,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Hamas says it’s fighting for liberation from occupation but is repressing people living under its control.
Other witnesses to the February 28 events told Human Rights Watch said that Hamas security officials threatened to assault journalists who tried to cover the protest and that they had assaulted a journalist trying to cover a similar demonstration on February 11. ”
Within Gaza, Hamas place serious restrictions on books, newspapers and other media according to HRW:
“On January 23, 2011, Hamas police officers entered three bookstores in Gaza City and confiscated copies of two books, saying they were allegedly “against Shari’a” without providing any basis for their actions in written law or court order.
Dr. Talaat al-Safadi, the owner of the Ibn Khaldun bookstore near Al Azhar University in Gaza City, told Human Rights Watch that two police officers in street clothes and another in uniform came to his bookstore and confiscated seven copies of A Banquet for Seaweed, a novel by Haidar Haidar, and one copy of Chicago, a novel by Alaa’ al-Aswany.
“The police didn’t tell me why they were taking the books and I didn’t ask them, but I insisted that they prove they had the right to take them, and eventually they showed me a note from the Ministry of Interior,” al-Safadi said. The police refused to give him a receipt for the books, he said, telling him to go to the al-Abbas police station, which he refused to do.
“A Banquet for Seaweed was written and translated into many languages 20 years ago, and people these days can download novels anyway,” al-Safadi said. “There’s no point in confiscating them.”
Also on January 23, members of the General Investigation Bureau confiscated copies of Chicago and A Banquet for Seaweed from the al-Shurouq bookstore in Gaza City, and Internal Security Service officers ordered employees at the Samir Mansour bookstore, near Gaza City’s Islamic University, not to sell any copies of the novels, said the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a nongovernmental rights group based in Gaza. “
It is just a matter of time before Hamas start burning books.
(H/T: Adam Holland)
Update 1: Meanwhile in Bahrain, HRW reports:
“We were at the anti-government demonstration in Rifaa, south of Manama, where King Hamad’s palace is located. It turned violent. Several pro-government protesters or Rifaa residents broke through the police line and began chanting and hurling rocks toward the anti-government demonstrators. Some in the latter group reacted and did the same. After a minute or two of these exchanges the police began shooting tear gas in the direction of the protesters and hundreds began running away. I saw lots of teargas, and dozens of people fell on the ground due to inhalation, being struck by canisters, or simply falling over. The firing of tear gas canisters stopped after about a minute, and some protesters went back to the front line again. But after half an hour or so the crowd began to disperse. Ambulances on the scene took some of the injured to the hospital.”