Trouble in Palestine.
It is high time Yassir Arafat curbed his forces and their eager brutality. But punishing officers for a single beating doesn't begin to solve the problem of widespread mistreatment under the Palestinian Authority. According to human-rights advocates, about twelve people have died as a result of mistreatment while in the custody of Palestinian security forces.
In May, the district police commander of Ramallah summoned Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian and an American citizen. He was arrested, held incommunicado for a week, and then released.
Kuttab's crime? Though the police never told him the reason for his arrest, Kuttab is a journalist who has been fighting the Palestinian Authority's repeated attempts to block his broadcasts. On Kuttab's show, Palestinian lawmakers frequently criticize Arafat and the Palestinian Authority for corruption and human-rights abuses.
Kuttab discovered that the Authority was jamming his telecast with an interfering signal that covered the screen with a black rectangle. He complained to The Washington Post and was arrested shortly thereafter.
Kuttab's arrest follows a series of troubling reports about the Palestinian Authority. "There has been a disturbing increase in human-rights violations by the Authority during the past two years," writes William Schulz, the executive director of Amnesty International. "That increase has taken place in an emerging atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Victims of brutal torture and other abuses are now afraid to speak out and give their names."
Bassam Eid, head of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, reports that forty-two Palestinian prisoners claim to have been physically abused while in the control of security forces employed by the Palestinian Authority. Eid himself was arrested by Palestinian security forces in 1996. "It is urgent to combat the indefensible practices of beating, whipping, tying up, burning, and worse of Palestinians by other Palestinians," he says.
In early May, the Palestinian Authority announced it was a capital offense for Palestinians to sell land to Israelis. Within weeks, three Palestinians had been killed for doing just that. Israeli security forces have laid responsibility for the killings at Arafat's feet, saying that they have "direct proof" of official Palestinian involvement in the murders. Although the Palestinian Authority claims to have had nothing to do with the killings, it has not rescinded the savage law.
Since 1993, the United States has given $220 million to the West Bank and Gaza, $40 million of which has gone directly to the Palestinian Authority. Arafat does not deserve this allowance. The United States should pull all funding from the Authority. U.S. taxpayers should not be helping Yassir Arafat oppress his own people.
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|Title Annotation:||Palestine National Authority human rights abuses|
|Date:||Aug 1, 1997|
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