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ANHRI condemns assault on human rights defender

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 18 January 2012 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the assault committed against the Palestinian activist Mahmoud Abu Rahma, the communication and international relations officer at the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, in response to an opinion article he wrote. This is a frank violation of free expression.

In his article, written a few days ago and entitled "Protection lost: Among resistance, government and citizen", Abu Rahma discusses the amount of time and attention given to reconciliation talks between different Palestinian groups, in contrast to and at the expense of efforts regarding the ongoing detention of Palestinian citizens and the cases of torture and murder in detention centres that go unpunished. He also stressed the need to widen the space of freedoms that are already under attack in the Palestinian territories and stated that citizens' needs are often sidelined and lost in the battle between government and resistance.

On Friday 13 January, while he was on his way home in Talel Hawa, South Gaza, three masked men attacked Abu Rahma, stabbing him with blades on various parts of his body and threatening to kill him. Abu Rahma stated that this is not the first time that he has suffered an attack of this kind. He was attacked on 3 January by masked men in front of his home, and threatened repeatedly by SMS and e-mail over his opinion article.

"These repetitive assaults against activists and opinion makers come in the context of a gagging campaign, and are serious violations of free expression. The two assaults within one month against Abu Rahma shed light on the inability of the Gazan government to ensure the safety of its citizens," said ANHRI.

ANHRI is calling upon all relevant authorities in Gaza to immediately launch an investigation into these assaults, bring the perpetrators to justice, take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of activists and journalists, as well as to recognize and protect the right to freedom of expression.

Click here to read the piece by Mahmoud Abu Rahma
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