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Hizb Ut-Tahrir: PA arrests thousands

July 17, 2010 7:06 P.M. (Updated: July 23, 2010 10:44 A.M.)
Ramallah - Ma'an - Officials from the Islamist movement Hizb Ut-Tahrir said Palestinian security services set up checkpoints on Friday to harass party supporters en route to an annual conference in Ramallah.

"Security forces in Ramallah began installing security checkpoints early this morning on all of the entrances to Ramallah," a statement from the organization, which promotes the re-establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East, read, accusing the officers on the checkpoints of detaining men they believed were on their way to a party meeting.

By evening, members of the movement said PA security had "shut down the gates of the school, confiscated equipment and arrested hundreds," in addition to what the group said was hundreds of others detained at the PA checkpoints.

Witnesses confirmed heavy security forces presence at checkpoints erected around Ramallah, and around the location where the conference was set to take place.

"Since early morning, the PA has arrested 1,000s of Hizb Ut-Tahrir members," an official estimated.

Security forces entered the yard of the school where the conference was scheduled to be held in Ramallah, a representative for the movement said, and security officers in civil uniforms were seen deployed at the scene and were observed to have assisted in dozens of arrests.

The organization said security personnel with the government had broken into the offices of Watan TV because they believed that a photojournalist had captured the arrests on tape.

Events organized by Hizb Ut-Tahrir to mark the 89th anniversary of the fall of the last caliphate have been repressed in areas of the West Bank and Gaza, with 17 said to have been arrested near Hebron, and limited violence erupting north of Gaza City last week.

A large event was planned by the group in Ramallah for Saturday evening, and the group said similar tactics were employed by PA forces throughout the West Bank, targeting smaller events in other villages.

In one case, the group added, PA security services were dispatched around a school where an event was scheduled, "turning the school, the venue for a conference, into a military post."

There has been no comment from government officials on the accusations.
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