UN official urges Palestinian security to allow protests

Human rights chief urges calm after protesters attacked by security forces and calls to 'promptly, transparently and independently' investigate 'any unnecessary or disproportionate use of force'

Associated Press|
The UN human rights chief on Thursday urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to ensure the safety of protesters after security forces and supporters of President Mahmoud Abbas attacked demonstrators over the weekend.
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  • The protests erupted after an outspoken critic of the PA died shortly after his family said he was severely beaten by security forces who arrested him. The PA, which governs parts of the West Bank, has grown increasingly autocratic and unpopular in recent years.
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    הפגנות ברמאללה כמחאה על מותו של הפעיל הפלסטיני ניזאר בנאת
    הפגנות ברמאללה כמחאה על מותו של הפעיל הפלסטיני ניזאר בנאת
    Thousands of Palestinians gathering for an anti-government protest rally in Ramallah, West Bank
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Palestinian security forces had used force against initially peaceful protesters, "including beating them with batons and firing teargas and stun grenades."
    The statement said she was concerned about "the presence of large numbers of non-uniformed people acting in a seemingly organized and coordinated manner" with the Palestinian forces.
    "During one of these protests, one of our staff members monitoring it was punched and pepper-sprayed by a person in civilian clothing," Bachelet said. "Many people, including journalists and human rights defenders, were similarly assaulted."
    She said women appear to have been singled out, whether they were protesting or reporting for the media or were just bystanders, with many reporting being sexually harassed.
    2 View gallery
    הפגנות ברמאללה כמחאה על מותו של הפעיל הפלסטיני ניזאר בנאת
    הפגנות ברמאללה כמחאה על מותו של הפעיל הפלסטיני ניזאר בנאת
    Thousands of Palestinians gathering for an anti-government protest rally in Ramallah, West Bank
    (Photo: Reuters)
    There was no immediate comment from the PA. More protests are expected this weekend.
    Bachelet called on authorities "to ensure freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly," and said that the security forces must "provide safety and security for the exercise of human rights."
    "Any unnecessary or disproportionate use of force must be promptly, transparently and independently investigated," she said.
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