Tuesday, December 14, 2010

HRW, UN actually chide Hamas

Hamas has closed a lot of NGOs and charities over the past couple of years. But one organization they closed on November 30th has some powerful friends.

From Palestine Monitor, December 2:
The Sharek Youth Forum in Gaza City was forcibly closed by police on Tuesday. The forum’s liberal agenda had resulted in frequent clashes with the Hamas government prior to its closure. Sharek staff protest the action is illegal and unjust.

In the past seven months the group’s headquarters have been repeatedly raided and members of staff have been subjected to physical intimidation, harassment and threats. During this time, Executive manager Muheib Shaath has been summoned to 15 separate interrogations from internal security. A summer camp run by Sharek in partnership with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was destroyed in May.

Sharek co-founder Sufian Mshasha told us the harassment and ultimate closure was “prompted by our agenda of democracy, social development, and our insistence on holding activities for both genders.” He claimed that “80-90%” of questioning of Sharek staff focused on their practise of mixing genders in their programmes.
The webpage of Sharek includes a large list of donors, including George Soros, the Carter Center, UNRWA, UNESCO, and Save the Children-Sweden.

So in this case, there is actually an outcry.

The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian Territory, Maxwell Gaylard, today voiced his concern about the forced closure on 30 November by the local authorities in Gaza of all Gaza-based offices of the non-governmental organization Sharek Youth Forum.
“I am very concerned about the recent forced closing of Sharek Youth Forum in Gaza. Sharek is an important NGO partner of the United Nations in its work on behalf of children and the youth in Gaza”, Mr. Gaylard said.

From HRW:
Hamas authorities in Gaza should allow an organization that helps children and youth to reopen and penalize officials who have harassed its workers, Human Rights Watch said today. On November 30, 2010, Hamas authorities arbitrarily closed all of the Gaza offices of the group Sharek Youth Forum, which provides psychosocial and vocational support and operates summer camps and other programs for 60,000 Gaza children and youth.
Will Hamas cave now that one of their many anti-democratic actions bubbled to the surface?