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September 2000 - Return to Monthly Index          MiddleEast.Org 9/05/00
News, Information, & Analysis That Governments, Interest Groups, and the Corporate Media Don't Want You To Know! 
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MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 9/5/2000:
    Fear, Intimidation, Repression...these are all synonymous with the
"Palestinian Authority" of Yasser Arafat, established by the U.S and
Israel, with considerable Egyptian, Hashemite, and Saudi help and
encouragement.  Corruption, nepotism, co-optation...these descriptions
can also be easily added.
    The basic problem is not a human rights one but rather political in nature.
The PA was set up for a purporse -- to legitimize Israeli designs for the area
and to help mask the real role the U.S. plays in the region in tandem with
Israel and the neighboring Arab "client regimes".  By definition, the PA was set up to undermine and suppress Palestinan rights, human and otherwise -- so it should
come as no real surprise anymore that that is what it does.
   Today's Amnesty International Report is rather late in coming and rather
incomplete in analysis.  As the saying goes, it is but the tip of the iceberg
when it comes to the PA and its ways.  The overall reality is that the
Arafat Regime's repression and subjugation of the Palestinian people is far more extensive, and far more successful so far, than the direct Israeli occupation ever was -- as brutal as were conditions in those days past.  Just one more at least short-term victory for Israel, the U.S. and the Arab "client regimes" they constantly conspire with.


                           By Wafa Amr
JERUSALEM, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Amnesty International accused the Palestinian
Authority on Tuesday of trying to silence dissent by illegally detaining
dozens of critics in the six years since the administration was created.

In a report published days before Palestinian leaders meet to consider
whether to declare an independent state, the international human rights
watchdog sharply criticised the Authority's record on human rights and

Palestinian officials said the accusations were inaccurate.

``In the past six years, the Palestinian Authority has detained dozens of
persons for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression,''
Amnesty said.

``Human rights defenders, journalists, religious figures, writers, government
officials, trade unionists and academics have all been detained as prisoners
of conscience...They are almost always detained outside the law and often
held incommunicado,'' it added.

``Often critics of the PA have been invited by one of the Palestinian
security services for a short meeting over a 'cup of coffee', only to emerge
from detention days, weeks or even months later.''

It said some detainees had been tortured and the Authority held an estimated
600 long-term political prisoners.

The report, which followed past Amnesty criticism of Palestinian Authority
detention practices, mentioned several specific cases.

It said Sabri Abu Diab, a preacher, had been detained last November two days
after criticising the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in a sermon and was
released only 21 days later.

It said Abdel Fattah Gahnem, a presidential adviser on refugees, was still in
custody after being detained in June following remarks he made on the failure
to find a ``just setlement'' to the problem of Palestinian refugees.

Amnesty also said the Authority had adopted laws restricting freedom of
expression and governing the media which could be used to authorise the
detention of prisoners of conscience.


The latest criticism was a blow to Palestinian leaders four days before a
leadership body meets in Gaza to consider whether to make a declaration of
statehood as early as September 13.

Some international leaders have urged Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to
delay the declaration until he has reached an agreement with Israel ending 52
years of conflict.

Hassan Asfour, the Palestinian minister of state for non-governmental
affairs, said Amnesty's report was inaccurate and that the Authority's human
rights record had improved.

Few people were detained last year and most of the detentions were not
related to freedom of expression, he said.

``It seems that some rights groups insist on looking at the negative aspect
of the Authority's work and ignore the positive developments. There have been
mistakes but they're exaggerated by these groups,'' Asfour told Reuters.

Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, an aide to Arafat, said the abuses listed were not part
of any official policy. Some criticisms also related to actions carried out
as part of the Authority's commitment to the peace process, he said.

``We're building a civil society, we're not building a dictatorship regime.
We're not against the people's right to speak,'' Abdel-Rahman said.

Agreements between Israel and the Palestinians call on the Authority to break
up the infrastructure of opposition groups such as Moslem militant groups
opposed to peace with Israel.

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