Wednesday, June 27, 2007

PCHR's Position on Emergency Order Restricting Civil Society in Gaza

Following the declaration of the 'state of emergency' declared by Mahmoud Abbas on June 14, on June 20 Abbas issued a decree on civil society organisations. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights based in Gaza writes about this decree:

Under first article of this decree the Palestinian Interior Minister is granted “the authority to review all permits for associations and organizations issued by the Ministry of Interior or any governmental source.” The second article gave the Minister of Interior or any person delegated by the Minister the power to “take any steps deemed necessary against associations and organizations with the intent of closure, amendment, or any other action.” The third article points that “all organizations and associations must submit new registration applications within one week; and all who violate this directive are subject to the law.”

PCHR's position is that this decree is a serious violation of the right to establish organizations, which is a basic human right guaranteed by article 26 of the Amended Basic Law for 2003, stating Palestinians’ right to “Establish unions, associations, federations, clubs, and public organizations in accordance with the law”, while they stress the importance and necessity of civil society in the current crisis, especially in the provision of humanitarian, relief, medical, and other services to the civilian population.

At a time when there is a crucial need for dialogue and cooperation among Palestinians at all levels - governmental, non-governmental, in civil society, among activists, in the media - there seems to be an earnest effort taken by the Palestinian Authority to sideline those who don't support them. This bodes very dangerous for the acting government as through actions like these they lose their legitimacy among the people and push Palestinians further apart from each other, all the while that the Occupation persists, the refugees are left without hope, and the initial goals that characterise the Palestinian struggle of a sovereign, independent state are threatened with being put off for another 59 years.

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