Issa Amro declares hunger strike as he remains under detention by the Palestinian Authority because of Facebook post.
By Ariel Gold / Youth Against Settlements, via email
September 5, 2017
“All my writings on social media are part of the freedom of opinion and expression stipulated by the Palestinian Basic Law and are protected by all international laws and conventions. My arrest will not affect my defense of human rights and the rights of journalists to exercise their work freely and without pressure from the government.”
— Issa Amro
Yesterday morning, Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro was arrested by Palestinian Authority police for posting a message on Facebook stating that the PA should respect freedom of expression after it arrested journalist Ayman Qawasmi. That was yesterday morning around 10:00 AM, Palestine time. Issa is still in custody almost 30 hours later. His detention has now been extended and Issa has declared he is on hunger strike, refusing all food, water and medicine until he is released.
Amnesty International and other human rights groups have condemned the PA’s detention of Issa and called for his immediate release. He was arrested under a new law issued by the PA that gives it broad powers to arrest and imprison Palestinians for statements made online that harm “national unity” and to block access to websites. The PA, which was created under the Oslo Accords during the 1990’s and was supposed to be a temporary body on the way to statehood, operates under the overall control of Israel’s occupying army.
Before going to the police station for questioning, Issa prepared a statement in preparation for the possibility of his arrest. “All my writings on social media are part of the freedom of opinion and expression stipulated by the Palestinian Basic Law and are protected by all international laws and conventions. My arrest will not affect my defense of human rights and the rights of journalists to exercise their work freely and without pressure from the government.”
Issa’s brother Ahmad Amro, spoke about his brother’s arrest by the PA. “While we have lived under repressive Israeli military rule for the past 50 years, we cannot become our own oppressors. We must protect and strengthen Issa and others who work to protect our rights and who are willing to risk themselves everyday in pursuit of our freedom.”
Issa is currently facing 18 charges in Israeli military court for his nonviolent work against Israel’s occupation and theft of Palestinian land for illegal settlements. Amnesty International has also spoken out in defense of Issa in regard to those charges calling them politically motivated and baseless. They have said if convicted by Israel they will declare him a prisoner of conscience.
Issa has been recognized around the world for his leadership of nonviolent resistance to Israel’s occupation. In 2010 the UN declared him human rights defender of the year for Palestine. In 2013 the European Union designated Issa as a Human Rights Defender. Issa’s status with the EU was reaffirmed in 2016. Issa’s case in Israeli military court was included in a US Department of State report on human rights in 2016. In June 2017, 38 members of Congress wrote letters calling on the the US to encourage Israel to reconsider the charges against Issa. Issa is expected to arrive in the US to give public talks at the end of September, 2017.