UN calls PA's Nizar Banat protest repression 'worrying' as family says not heard from Authority

UN calls PA's Nizar Banat protest repression 'worrying' as family says not heard from Authority
3 min read
29 June, 2021
The UN Secretary-General's spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, reminded the Palestinian Authority about 'respect for freedom of expression' following repression of protesters outraged at critic Nizar Banat's death.
Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric made the remarks at a media briefing on Monday [Getty]

The Palestinian Authority's treatment of protesters demonstrating against the killing of PA government critic Nizar Banat from the West Bank last Thursday has been "worrying", the United Nations said on Monday.

This remark was delivered by UN Secretary-General António Guterres' spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, during a media briefing at the body's global base in New York, the Anadolu Agency's Arabic-language service reported.

Dujarric told the media that "colleagues" in Palestine are observing PA forces and others "not wearing military uniform" engaged in violence against protesters, rights activists, and reporters.

He also reminded the Palestinian Authority (PA) of the "necessity of ensuring respect for freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and peaceful assembly".

The spokesperson further said that the UN urges "investigation into any excessive use of force".

Banat, from Hebron, was placed in Palestinian detention last Thursday.

A post-mortem showed that the 44-year-old died within an hour of being taken in and had suffered physical assault to areas of his body such as his head and neck.

His family insist that he was murdered, Anadolu said.

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Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not spoken with the family of the deceased, according to Banat's relatives, as reported by Arabi21.

They claimed that the country's long-time president, Mahmoud Abbas, has not reached out to them either, and is not bothered about what happened.

Also on Monday, Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh vowed whoever is culpable "will be held accountable", the state's Wafa news agency reported.

A probe into the death was revealed by security spokesperson Talal Dwaikat on Saturday.

However, Anadolu said Banat's relatives told media at their Monday conference they demand an investigation comprised of half local and half international bodies and rights organisations.

They do not believe in the investigation being run by the state, Arabi21 reported.

Banat's dad Khalil slammed the investigation, arguing that "all its parties are from the Palestinian Authority and this is the law of the jungle".

His relatives also issued their support for those demonstrating in their dead family member's name.

"Nizar's blood now runs through all free people. If the [Palestinian] Authority fails us in the investigation or in arresting or punishing [those responsible], then you are the sword of truth to defend Nizar."

Protests over Nizar Banat's death have spread even to the media.

In response to PA repression, on Monday, reporters gathered in Ramallah outside a United Nations building, calling for freedom of the press.