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HRW: Tamimi conviction violates right of free assembly

May 29, 2012 6:20 P.M. (Updated: May 30, 2012 5:18 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli military court’s conviction of Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi of leading illegal demonstrations violates his right to freedom of assembly, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

His conviction, on May 20, of urging children to throw stones on the basis of a child’s statement also raises serious concerns about the fairness of his trial, the New York-based group said.

“The Israeli military authorities seem to have known it would be hard to justify convicting an activist for only leading peaceful protests, so they apparently used oppressive methods to produce evidence that he also encouraged children to throw stones,” said Joe Stork, HRW's deputy Mideast director.

“Israel’s military justice system indicted itself with its verdict against Bassem Tamimi,” he said.

“In practice, the military made it virtually impossible for him to protest in his village and then convicted him of leading illegal demonstrations when he tried to hold protests anyway.”

His conviction for organizing illegal demonstrations came against a background of laws and practices that made it practically impossible for Tamimi to hold a demonstration in his home village, the group said.

The court sentenced Tamimi on May 29 to 13 months in prison, which he has already served, as well as a 17-month suspended sentence.

In a similar case in 2011, an Israeli military appeals court sentenced Abdallah Abu Rahme, a Palestinian advocate of nonviolent protests, to 16 months in prison.
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