The Case of Muhammad Amirah and the Criminalization of Protest in the West Bank

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  • On 20 June 2011 Ni’lin resident Muhammad Amirah was charged with incitement and support for a hostile organization and disturbing a soldier
  • Amirah was arrested during a nonviolent protest near the village of Deir Kaddis, against the expansion of the settlement Nili, in which he sat down in front of a tractor and demanded that the work cease
  • Amirah’s case does not include any charges or mentions of violence and is thus an important example of the criminalization of all political activity by Palestinians in the West Bank, including actions recognized by all as nonviolent.

Amirah’s case exemplifies the extent to which ALL protest action – including explicitly nonviolent actions are criminalized within the Israeli system in the West Bank. Amirah was sitting on the ground in front of a tractor repeating the phrase “I am not engaging in violence, I will not commit a violent deed” and was still arrested and charged.
Even with NO charges of violence against him, the protest action is perceived as a security threat and a criminal act.
In addition, Amirah’s case is a great example of the ambiguity of the term “Legal demonstration” in that West Bank that is a result of both the illegal and inapplicable legislation that regulates demonstrations in the West Bank (especially the Order Regarding Prohibition of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda Actions (Order 101) from 1967) that does not recognize any form of protest in the WB as legal protest, and the lack of Judicial Review on this legislation. This case reflects not only the ambiguity of the “legal demonstration”, but also the dangerous implications of this ambiguity of freedom of expression and the right to protest in the West Bank.
To download ACRI’s full briefer on the Amirah case, click here (English PDF).
Further background on the right to protest in the West Bank:
Rights of Demonstrators in the Occupied Territories – ACRI info-sheet

The Right to Demonstrate in the West Bank – a B’Tselem report

“Show of Force” – B’Tselem report on Israeli military conduct in weekly demonstrations in Nabi Saleh

“This is how Palestinian minors are interrogated” – ACRI briefer on the case of A. from Nabi Saleh

Bassem Tamimi’s Sentence – Injury to Freedom of Expression in the Occupied Territory – ACRI Update/Position paper

Illegal Use of Closed Military Zone Orders to Restrict Legal Protest in the Occupied Territories

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Categories: Freedom of Expression, Human Rights Defenders, The Occupied Territories

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