Monday, January 31, 2011

PA banned a support demonstration for Egyptian uprising

Police ban Egypt solidarity rally in Ramallah
Published yesterday (updated) 01/02/2011 08:56

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Security forces shut down a demonstration Sunday in front of the Egyptian embassy in Ramallah, after calling in one of the organizers for questioning multiple times a day earlier, organizers of the rally said.

Forces pushed demonstrators and a man who identified himself as a police commander said the demonstrators were in a "security area" and would have to disperse, they said.

Twenty armed police, who quickly tried to confiscate cameras, ordered a journalist to turn off her microphone and recorder, Human Rights Watch said. An Agence France-Presse reporter confirmed the report.

Several women demonstrators told the police that Palestinian law required the demonstrators to notify the authorities 48 hours in advance and that they had done so.

Women also convinced three policemen to release a demonstrator they had seized and dragged away when he shouted, "Long live Egypt!" The police dispersed the protest after one hour.

Demonstrators said they had expected a higher turnout, but security agencies called in one of the organizers of the protest for questioning three times in the last 24 hours and told him to cancel the event. Security forces ordered the organizer to cancel an event notice that he had created on Facebook.

'Ban on Egypt, Tunisia solidarity'

There "were orders that no event related to Tunisia or Egypt was allowed at this time," the organizer said, and members of the Facebook page calling for the rally received messages that it was canceled.

Human Rights Watch called on the PA to stop its "arbitrary interference with peaceful demonstrations."

A Palestinian security official said late Sunday that the demonstration was not given the go-ahead because there was "an agreement with all the factions not to hold any rallies without a permit."

Palestinians have eagerly followed the revolution in Tunisia and the unprecedented protests sweeping across Egypt, but the PA has offered little comment, saying only it hoped the country would weather the unrest.

The PA banned a similar demonstration in solidarity with the uprising in Tunisia last week.

Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian activist and organizer, told Ma'an that the PA forces' "heavy-handed suppression of the youth-initiated and -led peaceful celebration of the Tunisian uprising's overthrow of the dictator, Ben-Ali, indicates where the PA's loyalty lies.

"Autocratic, unelected regimes tend to identify with one another, it seems. The glaring difference here, in the occupied Palestinian territory, is that the PA is trying to 'rule' by decree while we are still under foreign occupation," Barghouti said at the time.

"After Tunis, there is no telling when the next Arab dictator will fall. One, Ben-Ali, is gone; 21 remain."

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