PA Democracy: Anti-Gov’t Conference Quashed by Police
Police turned a planned press conference against Palestinian Authority government policy into an illegal rally – and then banned it, injuring participants in the process.
The Palestinian Authority’s Ma’an news agency reports that the police in the Palestinian Authority have a different version of the events.
The issue involved opposition by some groups against the PA’s decision to enter into direct talks with Israel. The event was organized by left-wing factions and several independent politicians, and a similar one was to be held in Gaza City.
According to one of the conference organizers, former Ramallah mayoral candidate Khaleda Jarrar of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the intention was to hold a press conference inside a Ramallah hall, and not to conduct a protest rally outside. However, she said, PA police "in civilian uniforms attempted to thwart the event from the start, chanting slogans and leading event participants towards the center of Ramallah."
She said the plainclothes officers were trying to provoke participants, and though "we aimed to voice our dissent… the PA decided to enter the conference hall and drag participants out to an unplanned rally" in order to quash it. The government-affiliated Watan TV station said network cameramen were assaulted and injured and their equipment confiscated.
On the other hand, a PA police spokesman denied to Ma'an any police intervention at the conference, saying forces were "surprised when an illegal rally was carried out on the streets of Ramallah." He said security forces “did not enter the hall in either civilian dress or military uniform, [and] had no part in the decision to prevent the holding of a news conference. Forces on patrol were surprised when a gathering of people headed to Watan television studios. When the individuals were asked what they were doing, they said they were carrying out a rally… The age of chaos is over, these matter require prior notification and a permit.”