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Crack-Down of Jordanian Regime on Anti-Normalization Activists Escalates
Report by : Dr. Hisham Bustani
Monday, February 5, 2001
Breaking News: in an un-expected twist, the Jordanian government
turned six more members of the Anti-Normalization Committee of
the Union of Professional Associations to the Attorney General
today charging them with “participating in an illegal organization”
and “endangering citizens’ lives”. The six are: Shakeeb Oudallah
(an engineer), Fouad Habash (a pharmacist), Hashim Khalidi (a journalist),
Fouad Rifa’i (a veterinarian), Nayef Rosheidat (a physician), and Imran
Tellawi (an accountant). They were later released on a JD10,000
(US$ 14,300) bail.
Other members of the Anti-Normalization Committee, including two
ladies, were summoned to appear tomorrow, Tuesday, February 6,
before the Attorney General to face the same charges as above.
These are: Dr. Huda Fakhouri (a dentist), Julliet Awwad (an actress)
and Abdulhadi Nashash (from the Writers’ Association).
The Report:
Following the obscene crackdown on the members of the Anti-Normalization
Committee of the Union of Professional Associations (UPA), a wide range
of angry reactions swept the Jordanian scene in condemnation of the
violations committed by the government, which, in turn, took it upon
itself to escalate confrontations with the organizations of civil
society and human rights activists with more arrests, trials, fines,
and threats of more to come.
On Tuesday, January 30, while Human Rights and Liberties organizations,
associations, committees and activists were holding a joint press conference
in condemnation of the government’s latest measures, Jordanian Prime
Minister, Ali Abu-Ragheb, was meeting with the UPA’s Board of Directors.
In this meeting, PM Abu-Ragheb conveyed a direct threat to the UPA leaders:
“You will not be allowed to go beyond the authority of the state under any
title or slogan”, in reference to freedom of speech and publication which
the UPA upholds to defend its committee’s decision to publish the list of
those who have open ties with the Zionist state. He also threw in a very
serious threat: “The government will implement the law of civil service
against UPA members if any association tried to escalate or organize
sit-ins”. This infamous law entitles ministers to expel any employee
working in any governmental or government-related job if he/she was
deemed to have any political activity, without having to provide any
substantiation!! [Be advised that the state is the largest employer
in Jordan].
In the meantime, a press conference was taking place at the quarters
of the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR) in condemnation of
the regime’s latest repression. Attorney Hani Dahleh, President of
the AOHR, Dr. Fawzi Samhouri, President of the Jordanian Association
for Citizen’s Rights, Mr. Akram Krieshan, Vice-President of the AOHR,
Mr. Mowaffak Mahadein, representative of the Writers’ Association,
and Dr. Huda Fakhouri, till then a non-arrested member of the UPA’s
anti-normalization committee all spoke in condemnation of the government’s
oppressive measures. A statement issued at the close of the meeting
characterized the most recent episode of oppression as “a continuation
of constitutional and human rights violations” and a prelude to
“a break-bone battle with the organizations of civil society”. The statement
went on to say that “the most dangerous in the last wave of arrests is the
procedure of planting incriminating evidence [by the police in the houses
that were violated], thus committing a crime in order to blackmail
[those arrested]”. Family members who were eyewitnesses on the scene
also spoke about the “technicalities” of the arrests as exposed in a
previous report.
On Wednesday, January 31, the Jordanian Association of Engineers called
on its members to go on strike for one hour in their places of work as
of 11 am to protest the arrest of their colleagues.
On Friday, February 2, more than 400 members of the UPA, along with
local activists and family members, drove from Amman to visit the
arrested committee members in Jweideh prison located about 5 km to
the south. Many of the cars were intercepted just 1 km before the
prison complex by mounted jeeps and anti-riot police. Heavy traffic
jams were caused by security men carrying lists of license plate
numbers for cars to be stopped. Those cars were searched and stagnated
just for the annoyance, and were then left to continue with their journey.
Groups traveling from more distant cities, however, were not as lucky.
Those coming from the towns of Zarqa, Karak and Tafieleh were intercepted
before reaching the prison and were forced to turn back to where they
came from.
On Sunday, February 4, the Jordanian Writers’ Association organized
a sit-in at its Headquarters in Jabal Leweibdeh, Amman, to protest
the latest arrests and violations of human rights, and especially
the charges against its member, Ali Hattar, currently in Syria,
and the only one that has escaped arrest as he was out of the
country at that time. Hattar faces the charges of “participating in
an illegal organization” and “the acquisition of explosive detonators”,
the latter is punishable with death according to Jordanian laws.
Yesterday, Attorney Naser Bakaeen, a leading member of the Democratic Left
Party, was arrested in Karak (a city about 100km south of Amman) after he
was connected to distributing his party’s statement of condemnation against
the government’s last violations. He was released today.
Finally we end this report with the demands delineated in the concluding
statement of the joint press conference of human rights and liberties
associations on January 30. The concluding statement demanded the
i.   The immediate and unconditional release of the arrested committee

ii.  The submission of an official apology by the government on this issue
     specifically and on the violations it had committed in the past 4 months.
     Also, all the officials responsible for the last show-down should stand
     trial for misusing authority and the forgery of evidence, and that relevant
     ministers should submit their resignations.

iii. That the government should declare its absolute obedience to the
     articles of the Jordanian Constitution, especially the articles
     concerned with liberties and human rights, and should stop
     threatening the organizations of civil society.

iv.  That the government should declare its utmost respect to the
     Jordanian citizen, and his/her right to speak freely as
     clarified in Article 15 of the Jordanian constitution, without
     intervening with its oppressive tools to enforce positions that
     go along with its policies.

v.   That the government should immediately stop the “after-midnight”
     arrests and crack-downs.

vi.  That the government should immediately stop the policy of firing
     and changing work locations of those associated with political
     activities as a punishment.
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