NGO: Hamas torturing political prisoners

2013-11-13 20:40

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Gaza City - Hamas has arrested and tortured dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip over the past few weeks on political grounds, a Palestinian rights group said on Wednesday.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemned the "arrest campaign launched by the Internal Security Service [of Hamas] against dozens of persons, including members of [the] Fatah [party] and children."

It said arrests had been stepped up to coincide with calls for demonstrations against Hamas on the anniversary of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The protests were called by the Tamarrod movement, which is inspired by the Egyptian group of the same name that organised the mass protests attending the army's ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation with branches across the Middle East whose Palestinian affiliate is Hamas.

Detainees told PCHR "that they were subject to torture, including being hit on hands and feet by a stick, punched all over their bodies, shackled, and forced to stand for long hours".

Others were "forced to sign oaths to abide by [the] law, not to assemble for participation in demonstrations, not to be in areas of friction with the police, and not to incite people against the government," the PCHR said.

On Monday Hamas forbade commemorations of Arafat, who died in 2004, accusing its West Bank-based rival of trying to organise "only a Fatah ceremony" in Gaza and excluding the territory's Islamist rulers.

Police were out in full force, and an AFP correspondent was briefly detained just for interviewing residents on the occasion.

A Hamas spokesperson on Wednesday refused to comment on the PCHR report, but slammed Tamarrod as "collaborators".

"There's no place for collaborators, hypocrites or rebels... on our land," Hamas spokesperson Fathi Hammad told AFP, describing the movement's calls for protest as "weaker than bubbles of soap".

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