Israeli Collaborator Abbas Targets Free Expression
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
Palestinians are terrorized by Israel and PA officials serving as its enforcer in Ramallah.
Dissent is criminalized, free expression prohibited. By decree, Abbas banned social media and other online criticism of his regime.
Palestinian violators can be imprisoned on charges of harming "national unity" or the "social fabric" - weasel wording permitting police state crackdowns on anyone for any reasons.
In the last month alone, 30 web sites were blocked, mostly affiliated with Hamas or Abbas rival Mohammed Dahlan.
Last week, five Palestinian journalists were arrested and detained for doing what they're supposed to do - their jobs, reporting accurately, criticizing deplorable PA practices.
Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights head Ammar Dweik called the new edict "a big setback (for) freedoms in the West Bank, one of the worst" Palestinian actions since the PA was established in 1994, following the Oslo Accords.
Serving its own interests and as Israel's enforcer, it's notorious for human and civil rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests and imprisonments of political opponents, torturing detainees, and cracking down on peaceful protests.
Anyone violating the new decree faces possible imprisonment from one year to life - for exercising their free expression rights.
In 2005, Israel anointed Abbas president. He serves illegitimately, refusing to call new elections, ruling like a tinpot despot like most other regional regimes, notably Israel.
According to Palestinian Center for Development & Media Freedoms (MADA) researcher Ghazi Bani, the degree permits arresting and imprisoning anyone for any reason. "It opens the door wide to more violations of freedom of expression."
Ramallah-based Palestinian Health Ministry official Emad al-Masri was detained and charged for two Facebook posts, criticizing cuts in PA funding for besieged Gaza, severely harming its residents, suffering for a decade under suffocating blockade - slow-motion genocide by any standard.
He was lucky, paying only a fine. Explaining what happened, he said "they meant to intimidate me, to silence me."
Director of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq Shawan Jabarin said Abbas' decree was approved in July without public discussion or involvement of rights groups.
He complained to David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, explaining the decree violates interventional conventions on privacy and free expression rights, adding:
"The Palestinian split between Fatah and Hamas and between the Strip and the West Bank is very much affecting human rights, including freedom of expression, and recently we have been seeing it intensifying, and we have therefore tried, through this contact, to send a signal to the United Nations and also to the Palestinian leadership."
A Final Comment
On August 9, MADA "condemn(ed) the arrest the arrest campaign carried out by the security services in the West Bank…against five journalists" - rejecting fabricated "justifications (for) attacks against media freedoms."
It called the arrests (and others like them) "part of a marked escalation of violations against media freedoms and a blatant violation of the Palestinian Basic Law, which protects freedom of expression and the press."
It demanded the release of targeted journalists and respect for media freedom.
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