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Palestinian prisoner of conscience Bassem Tamimi speaks out

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Published on Nov 2, 2012

Weekly demonstrations began on 9 December 2009. Every Friday residents of al-Nabi Saleh and solidarity activists gather around noon in the village centre and march peacefully towards the spring. They have been met repeatedly with unnecessary and excessive force by the Israeli army including the use of stun grenades, pepper spray, batons and guns.

Demonstrations are dispersed as soon as they begin and are usually not allowed to reach the spring. The Israeli army raids the village regularly, usually during the night, and conducts house searches and arrests, including the arrest of children under the age of 15.

Israeli military laws in place in the West Bank impose sweeping and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, requiring people to obtain advance permission from the Israeli military for any proposed gathering of 10 or more persons "for a political purpose of for a matter that could be interpreted as political".

Nariman Tamimi told Amnesty International that in al-Nabi Saleh and all areas where there is popular resistance, police use extreme violence, noting that "there is nothing [to the protests] except that you chant and express your opinion."

As one of the organizers of the al-Nabi Salneh protests and a coordinator of the village's popular committee, Bassem Tamimi and his family have been the target of harsh treatment by the Israeli army.

Since the demonstrations began, his house has been raided and ransacked numerous times. His wife has been arrested twice and two of his children have been injured -- Wa'ed was in hospital for five days after he was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet and Mohammed was injured by a tear-gas canister that was shot directly at him and hit him in the shoulder.

Bassem Tamimi has been arrested by the Israeli army 11 times to date, though he has only once been convicted by a military court - on charges that Amnesty International believes were unfounded.

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