A Police State without a State
- Tortured by Abbas's general intelligence for photographing torture
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Abbas's general intelligence on Tuesday kidnapped a
male nurse working in the Khaled hospital in Ramallah accusing him of
photographing the torture marks on the body of Sheikh Majd
al-Barghouthi who was tortured to death by the general intelligence.
Informed sources told the PIC reporter that PA intelligence elements
stormed the hospital and kidnapped Najeh Asi and assaulted hospital
staff, adding that information leaked from the PA intelligence's
prison confirmed that Asi is being subjected to excruciating torture
more brutal than the torture inflicted on Sheikh Barghouthi.
The sources appealed to the Palestinian factions, forces and human
rights organizations to intervene quickly to save his life.
A Police State without a State
Signs of torture on Barghouthi's legs
Comment by Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah
A government that murders its political opponents, by way of torture
or assassination, and then tries to cover up the crime, or mitigate
its gravity, is a criminal government, pure and simple.
As Palestinian citizens, we are worried that the Ramallah-based
government is effectively becoming just another Arab police state, to
be added to the other 22 other police states in the Arab world. But
there is a very a conspicuous difference, because in our case, the
Palestinian "state" is obviously a police state without a state.
Two weeks ago, the Palestinian General Intelligence, also known as
Mukhabarat, arrested, reportedly in a brutal manner, eight people from
the village of Kober near Ramallah. Among the detainees was the imam
of the local mosque, Majd al Barghouthi, 45, and father to eight
children. The main charge leveled against him was related to a firearm
he allegedly was hiding somewhere. Al-Barghouthi denied that he
possessed or knew of any firearm.
For eight successive days, al-Barghouthi was subjected to harsh
physical torture, including severe beating, burns, sleep deprivation,
and the so-called hooding technique, virtually the same types of
torture employed by Israeli domestic intelligence apparatus, the Shin
Beth, against Palestinian inmates.
On Wednesday, 20 February, al-Barghouthi lost consciousness and was
unceremoniously taken to a hospital in Ramallah. The treating doctor
told the Mukhabarat agents that the man was in critical condition and
that he needed urgent hospitalization.
However, the Mukhabarat agents didn't heed the doctor's advice, and
decided to take him back to the torture chamber.
On Friday, 22 February, al Barghouthi died, reportedly during an
extended torture session.
According to inmates, who were being held in a neighboring chamber, he
cried out for help for several hours to no avail, and then his voice
got weaker and weaker, until he died.
Following his death, Mukhabarat officials as well as some PA and Fatah
spokespersons switched into the "damage-control mode," claiming that
the man had been ill and that he had had a heart problem.
His family and relatives have vehemently denied that he had had any
serious health problems. They insist that their son was simply
murdered by the ruthless Mukhabarat apparatus.
This writer has had the opportunity to observe the body of the victim
and can testify that the man had indeed been subjected to extremely
savage and beating, strangulation, and administration of electrical burns.
Dozens of physicians, journalists, lawmakers and ordinary people have
seen with their own eyes the extent of the torture the victim had
These are not allegations, but facts.
Now, the ball is undoubtedly in Mahmoud Abbas's court. As President of
the Palestinian Authority, he is legally and morally responsible for
The Palestinian people expect him to behave and act, not like a head
of the Fatah organization, but as President of all Palestinians. This
is indeed the ultimate test of the credibility of Mr. Abbas, and if,
God forbids, he fails this test, he won't be taken seriously ever after.
This means that he must order a truly neutral and professional inquiry
commission to look into what exactly happened and establish the truth
within a reasonable period of time.
The Palestinian people must be assured that there will be no foul-play
and no whitewashing and no cover-up. After all, we are not a group of
imbeciles and simpletons whom the so-called "government" can easily
deceive and bamboozle. In the final analysis, the raison d'etre of any
government is to serve the people, not kill them.
Indeed, if it turns out that al-Barghouthi died as a result of
torture, which is very likely, the PA chairman and his government must
have the courage to address the Palestinian people and tell them the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, about what happened.
And then, we, the people of Palestine, will expect his Excellency, to
immediately fire the Head of the General Intelligence, Mr. Tawfiq al
Tirawi, for violating the law which prohibits the practice of torture
and for being instrumental to a homicide.
We will also expect him to prosecute the person or persons directly
and indirectly involved in the death of al-Barghouthi.
But there are certain tasks Abbas doesn't have to wait for the results
of the investigation to carry them out.
President Abbas should immediately instruct all his security agencies
to stop the employment of torture in their dungeons and interrogation
chambers. It is really a disgrace that while we complain about the
rampant use of torture by Israel, we ourselves are using it against
our own people, against ourselves. Shame on us.
More to the point, Abbas should issue a timely decree outlawing all
political arrests, that is arresting people because of their political
views. This decree should make it sufficiently clear to all these
young and mostly uneducated or undereducated security cadres that they
are not above the law and that they will be punished severely if they
indulge in torture again.
I know we can't possibly bring al-Barghouthi back to life. However,
for the sake of his family and friends and the Palestinian people as a
whole, we can prevent the recurrence of this crime. But this is only
if we have the will to do what is right.
Finally, a word to the European Union and other donors who are keeping
the PA afloat.
You are not completely innocent of this crime. You know well the men
who may have killed the victim receive their salaries from you. You
are their bankrollers.
And I am sure that the European peoples you represent don't accept
that their tax-payer money is used to effect serious human rights
violations, including the right to life, of the Palestinian people.
Hence, it is extremely important that you make all your financial aid
to the PA conditional upon its observance of human rights in the
I am not even alluding to the American role in this macabre quagmire
in the West Bank for obvious reasons, for the US, which practices
renditions and torture, is part of the problem.
I am addressing the Europeans, especially the European parliament,
because they still have a semblance of civility and decency.
Hence, the hope that the EU will tell the Ramallah government to stop
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