Palestinian Authority covers up death of critic
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) – The family of a political activist who died in the custody of Palestinian security forces on Saturday accused the PA of trying to cover up his death.
Relatives of Nazir Banat said they still had not received a document indicating the official cause of death and said the Palestinian Authority had made efforts to settle the case amicably.
âThe behavior of the Palestinian Authority so far is criminal behavior, covering up a crime,â Nazir’s brother Ghassan Banat told reporters.
Nazir Banat was a vocal critic of the Palestinian Authority who called on Western countries to stop providing aid to the Palestinian Authority due to human rights violations and growing authoritarianism.
In a series of Facebook posts and live videos, Banat criticized the authority’s close security coordination with Israel, seen by many Palestinians as treason, and its corruption. He also lambasted President Mahmoud Abbas in April for overturning what would have been the first Palestinian elections in 15 years.. Banat was a candidate on an opposition list.
His family said security forces broke into Banat’s room while he was sleeping and beat him, inflicting bloody wounds on his head before removing him from the house. He died shortly after in detention.
His death sparked weeks of protests. On July 5, at least six activists were arrested by security forces while demonstrating outside the Palestinian Authority headquarters. Several witnesses said police used pepper spray and beat protesters with batons.
Some 150 people demonstrated in Ramallah on Saturday evening, holding up Banat posters and chanting anti-Abbas slogans. The protest was peaceful and there were no reports of violence or arrests.
The Palestinian Authority, seen as a crucial partner of the United States and other Western countries, has formed a committee to investigate Banat’s death. Her brother said a few weeks later the family had little news from the government.
âUp to this point, we have not been able to obtain a death certificate. How can we have a citizen who dies without issuing a death certificate? said Ghassan Banat.
Accompanied by two family lawyers, the brother rejected what he said were attempts by the authority to send tribal elders to the family in hopes of closing the case and preventing it. reach the courts.
“This file will not be solved or closed by the elders or through tribal channels,” he said. âNizar’s case is a political assassination and will remain open until justice is served, even if it takes 1,000 years.
The PA is widely seen as corrupt and authoritarian, with a recent poll last month showing support for Abbas, who took power for what was supposed to be a four-year term in 2005, had plunged.
Abbas faced mounting pressure after he called off the election when it emerged his Fatah party would suffer a crushing defeat to rival militant group Hamas.
Palestinian security forces arrested a prominent activist last month and critic, Issa Amro, after criticizing recent arrests on Facebook.
Jeffery reported from Jerusalem.