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PA security forces arrest prominent human rights activist Issa Amro

PA security forces arrest prominent human rights activist Issa Amro”

Local media reports said Qawsmeh's arrest came after he called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to resign.

Qawasmeh, the chairperson of the board of Minbaf Al Hurriya radio - which the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) shut down on the grounds of alleged incitement against Israel - was arrested on Sunday.

Already under fire from human rights groups for his dubious record on issues such as press freedoms and the right to be heard, it's doubtful the arrest of a Palestinian activist for calling for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resign will do much to boost Abbas's esteem.

Palestinian nonviolent activist Issa Amro.

"Yes to freedom of opinion and expression", wrote Amro in his post slamming Qawasmeh's arrest.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also published a statement Monday expressing concern at Amro's arrest and urging his release. Some of them attempted to secure his release on Monday, saying they were "baffled" by the move against someone who is highly regarded in wider Palestinian society.

Family friends serving in the Preventive Security force said the plan was to transfer Amro to a Palestinian jail in Jericho. Criticizing the authorities should not be a criminal offence. "Issa Amro's arrest is the latest evidence that the Palestinian authorities are determined to continue with their repressive campaign against free speech", Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said.

In July, a draconian new "electronic crimes" law was introduced by decree and with no public debate, setting out harsh penalties for a series of vaguely worded offences on digital media. "Secondly, if any journalist is facing the same situation, please talk or get in touch with me, we are going to document all violations of the law and tell the Europeans about it".

"We have seen an alarming escalation in the Palestinian authorities' clampdown on freedom of expression in recent months".

The PA has also been the target of condemnation for its policy of security coordination with Israeli forces - particularly since Israel has always been criticized for suppressing Palestinians' freedom of expression, by jailing hundreds of journalists, activists, and average citizens for social media activity. The law is clear and not open to various interpretations, and everyone should respect it.

Abbas claimed to freeze security coordination with Israel after Israeli forces imposed a bloody crackdown on a Palestinian civil disobedience campaign protesting new security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

A crackdown on free speech in the West Bank began in June when 29 websites, majority associated with Hamas and Abbas's former Fatah rival Mohammed Dahlan, were banned.



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