Palestinian authorities have arrested Issa Amro, one of the most highlighted human rights activist, who condemned and criticized arrest of Palestine’s journalist on Facebook.
Mahmoud Abbas has initiated a campaign against activists who believe in freedom of speech on social media. Abbas, a leader of Palestinian Security Forces and Authority, arrested Amro for his dissent on social media.
Issa Amro, living in Southern West Bank of Hebron, is high profile victim of Mehmoud Abbas’s campaign against social media dissent and journalist-in short, freedom of speech.
Amro was previously alleged for his freedom of speech activities by Israeli Military Court. He founded a platform of Youth Against the Settlements that documents alleged abuses by Israeli military as well as settlers in Hebron.
After the arrest of Palestinian journalist Ayman Qawasmeh, who was alleged for raising his voice for the resignation of Abbas, Amro advocated his stance by criticizing the authorities on social media account of Facebook. Afterwards, Palestinian forces called for the activist to question his motives.
Amro’s statement that was released before his arrest advocates that,“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.”
Amro worked for freedom of expression of the unheard parts of Palestinian society and was highly respected for his work. Palestinian officials were surprised by the arrest of Amro and have determined to get him released on Monday.
The Initiation of Crackdown on Free Speech
In June, the crackdown on freedom of speech began when reportedly 29 websites and social media platforms were banned, most of which were associated with Mohammad Dahlan, rival of Abbas and Hamas.
In July, new laws were devised to target ‘electronic crimes’ and no prior notice or debate over the matter was made. Penalties were set for journalists and media people for series of offences that lead to arrest of huge number of journalists.
Amnesty International have voiced their advocacy for Amro against the arrest by Authorities by saying that Amro was only a human rights activists and he merely shared his opinion on social media. The arrest definitely has alerted other journalists and activists who believe in free speech.
“We have seen an alarming escalation in the Palestinian authorities’ clampdown on freedom of expression in recent months. Instead of continuing to step up their efforts to quash dissenting voices, the Palestinian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Issa Amro and stop harassing and intimidating activists and others for daring to speak their minds freely.”
Moreover, High commissioner’s UN office for human rights has raised voice against Palestinian authorities that,
“OHCHR is concerned at the arrest of human rights defender Mr Issa Amro in Hebron yesterday by the Palestinian Preventive Security. Mr Amro, who has also been the subject of a number of legal proceedings by Israel related to his work as a human rights defender, appears to have been detained after social media posts criticising the arrest of a journalist by the authorities.”
The Abbas’s campaign is on the rise with great number of followers who believe in repression of speech probably that they are on the lookout for journalists and activists. Social media does hold power to change opinions of people but Mr Amro has been right to defend violation of rights of humans. Freedom of speech is not a crime to be punished for; its something to be listened to and improve the patterns of society. If conflicts will continue, it will only end up in greater disasters with an even greater scale of human rights violation.