Ramallah (West Bank): Palestinian police said on Sunday, August 22, 2021, that they arrested 24 people protesting the government’s response to the death of a prominent political activist while in the custody of Palestinian security forces.
The protesters had planned to demand accountability in the death of Nizar Banat, an outspoken critic of the Palestinian Authority, who died in custody on June 24, shortly after his arrest. But the police stopped Saturday’s dharna and arrested two dozen activists.
Police spokesman Louie Arziguet issued a statement saying the protesters had not received permits and that they “refused to sign the conditions for the gathering.” It did not elaborate.
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Banat’s family has said he was beaten up as he was kicked out of his home and has accused the Palestinian Authority of trying to hide the death.
Palestinian officials have said the matter is being investigated.
The Palestinian Authority, which administers autonomous regions in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is widely viewed as corrupt and authoritarian. A recent poll showed that support for President Mahmoud Abbas, who took power for a four-year term in 2005, has waned.
Abbas faced mounting pressure after the cancellation of parliamentary elections, when it appeared his Fatah party would face a crushing defeat against rival Hamas terrorist group.
The Palestinian human rights organization al-Haq condemned the security services for blocking Saturday’s demonstrations and making the arrests.
It accused the government of “invading the rights and freedoms guaranteed by law” and called for the immediate release of those arrested.