Thursday, January 10, 2008

PA forces attack anti-Bush demonstrators in Ramallah

"Bethlehem – Ma'an – Palestinian security forces seized up to 25 protesters at a demonstration against the policies of US President George W. Bush in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where Bush was visiting on Thursday.

Witnesses said that Fatah-allied Palestinian Authority forces attacked demonstrators with clubs and pepper spray, tearing their signs and banners.

Bush was meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Muqata, the presidential compound, not far from the site of the demonstration.

Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar said that several protesters were injured after security forces attacked them. He said Bashir Kahyri, a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) sustained a fractured shoulder. Another demonstrator's nose was broken while others suffocated on tear gas. They were treated at the government hospital in Ramallah. Khayri is one the PFLP's senior leaders who was imprisoned by Israel for 16 years and also exiled for a period.

Approximately 1000 protesters had gathered in defiance of a ban on public protests for an anti-Bush sit-in at Ramallah's Orthodox Club before attempting to push towards Clock Square. The security forces immediately, violently dispersed the crowd, witnesses said.

The National and Islamic Forces, the Palestinian Grassroots Anti Apartheid Wall Campaign, the Prisoners Association and the National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba called for demonstrations to express opposition to Bush's presence in the region.

"This man has stood against Palestinians' rights," said Jamal Juma, the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. Juma pointed out Bush's opposition to the right of Palestinian refugees to return home. "This man is not going to bring anything to the Palestinian people," he said."

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