Affidavit No. 6041/2011

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Nazek Talal Hasan Abu-Rahma, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No.801914128, born on 11 February 1988, am Al-Jazeera network correspondent, and a resident of Tal al-Hawa Neighborhood, Gaza governorate, would like to declare the following:

On Monday 31 January 2011 at around 1:00 pm, a group of female reporters, who are colleagues of mine, and I gathered at al-Jundi al-Majhoul Square in al-Rimal Neighborhood in central Gaza city. We were joined by a group of female students from al-Azhar University and a group of young men. We gathered after receiving invitations on the social network website “Facebook” asking people to participate in a peaceful sit-in in solidarity with the Egyptian youth revolution against their oppressive regime and the ruling party in Egypt. Accompanied by my colleague, reporter Razan al-Madhoun, I headed to the Legislative Council headquarters, located near al-Jundi al-Majhoul square. We were to meet with Dr. Salah al-Bardawil, a representative in the Legislative Council on behalf of Hamas’ List of Change and Reform, in order to obtain a “permit” for the peaceful sit-in and to guarantee that police forces do not disrupt the event or harass the youth.

Coincidently, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior of the Gaza government, Mr. Ihab al-Ghusein, was at Dr. al-Bardawil’s office. We explained to both of them the idea behind our sit-in and how we, as educated and politically aware Palestinian youth, thought it was important to show support for Egyptian youth protesting against their suppressive regime of three decades. After a discussion that lasted about an hour, they refused to issue a permit for the sit-in. Their excuse was that they did not want any activities, such as our sit-in, to be perceived as the Gaza government’s own position on the events in Egypt, especially since the Egyptian regime was still in place.

Razan and I headed back to al-Jundi al-Majhoul Square after they refused to issue a permit for the sit-in. Upon arrival, we recognized a large number of policemen in civilian clothes holding wireless devices and ordering the youth to immediately leave the square. They then arrested a colleague of ours, Rami Murad, and a translator from Sharek Youth Forum, Muhammad al-Za’im. They forced them into civilian cars and transferred them to the police station. My colleagues and I went to speak with the head of the police force who seemed to be receiving orders on his walkie-talkie and was directing the other policemen. We told him about our discussion with Dr. Salah al-Bardawil and that we could convince the youth to leave in a calm and orderly fashion. He responded by screaming “Shut up and leave this place immediately”. Razan was then attacked by one of the policemen who forcibly confiscated her mobile phone and pushed her into a civilian car and arrested her. At that moment, a number of the Women’s Police Force arrived to the site and arrested me along with a number of my female colleagues: Asma’ al-Ghoul, Iban Rizeq, ‘Abir Ayyoub and Iskab Sirgeo. We were then taken to a nearby Police station.

Upon arrival, a number of policemen confiscated our personal belongings such as our bags, press cards, personal ID cards and mobile phones. After searching our bags and looking through our personal papers, the police officers separated me from my other colleagues and took me to a different room in the station for about half an hour. There, an officer screamed in my face, saying: “You are not a respectable girl, you belong on the streets”. He then ordered one of the policemen to bring over photos that, he said, showed us participating in a sit-in in Gaza City two months earlier. The sit-in was in solidarity with Sharek Youth Forum after they had been issued a closing order by the General Prosecutor’s Office.

After the interrogation I was taken to an adjacent room where my colleagues had been forced to stand in front of a police officer despite the fact that there were empty chairs in the room. I asked the officer to contact my father so I could inform him of my whereabouts and let him know that I was afraid of the police’s treatment and their threats to imprison us. My request was denied. He also refused our requests to sit down and threatened that we would be beaten by members of the Women’s Police Force if we do so. Shortly after, he asked us to reveal our names and home addresses. He also asked us to identify the name of the closest mosque to each of our homes. Several of my colleagues and I could not answer and were therefore reprimanded. Then they took us to a room in the station which is overseen by the Women’s Police Force. There we were separated and asked to give our statements while being prohibited from addressing one another. A policeman then came in the room and took pictures of each one of us while we held a piece of cardboard with our name and home address on it.

While providing our statements, the policewomen spoke spitefully to us, saying things such as “You are filthy and unrespectable.” One of the policewomen even said: “I’ve dealt with many girls of your kind who were involved in cases I am sure you know well (she meant cases involving bad ethics and morals”. She then threatened that we would be “detained with girls you will “like very much””. At that point, we argued with the policewomen and told them that we were wrongfully accused. After taking our statements, we were asked by one of the policewomen to sign a pledge that had the following four conditions: The General Investigation Unit is entitled to call us in for investigation at any time, we are prohibited from violating the laws of the Gaza government, we are prohibited from participating in sit-ins or gatherings without a permit from the police, and we are obligated to abide by the public customs, ethics and morals as well as Islamic (Shari’a) Law.

We refused to sign the pledges. A police officer then came in and told one of the policewomen, “these are women and women don’t sign pledges”. He then ordered a policeman to contact each of our fathers and ask that they come to the station immediately to sign the pledges. While waiting for our “guardians”, our colleague Asma’ al-Ghoul was separated from the group and taken to a nearby room. There she was interrogated, beaten and had her hair pulled by members of the Women’s Police Force. After about half an hour from when the police contacted our “guardians”, our fathers arrived to the station and signed the pledges on our behalf. At around 5:30 pm, we were
given back our personal belongings and allowed to leave the police station with the additional condition that we would not publish any photos we had taken using our mobile phones.

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 6041/2011
  • Field researcher: Mohammad Abu Rahmah
  • Affidavit Date: 01 February 2011
  • Name: Nazek Talal Hasan Abu-Rahma
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