Human Rights Watch says:
Shortly before a scheduled performance on April 12 in Ramallah’s Al-Kasaba Theatre by a dance troupe visiting from India, a political activist, Zeid Shuaibi, 25, stood up in the audience and criticized the event. Shuaibi works with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, a group that advocates a cultural boycott of Israel by foreign artists. Fifteen other protesters were also in the audience. Shuaibi told the audience that the committee had asked the Palestinian Ministry of Culture to cancel the performance because the dance troupe had performed in Tel Aviv, and criticized the Culture Ministry for allowing the performance to proceed, he and several witnesses told Human Rights Watch.
For 10 to 15 minutes, several other protesters voiced similar criticisms. Some audience members not affiliated with the protest voiced their agreement and some walked out of the theater. Other audience members objected to the protesters’ speeches, but no one used insults, harsh language, or violence, witnesses said.
Shuaibi said that men in civilian clothes ordered him to leave, then were joined by a policeman who restrained him while the other men beat him. Three of Shuaibi’s friends who were in the audience, only one of whom said he was involved in the protest action, tried to accompany him and shouted at the security officials to stop beating him, whereupon the officials assaulted them as well, they said.This happened over a month ago, yet the worldwide BDS movement has been strangely silent about their activists being beaten and charged by the people they pretend they are supporting.
Police put the four men into one of the three police vehicles parked outside the theater, they said, and assaulted a woman who tried to accompany them to the police station. The woman, Dr. Dima Amin, 43, a gynecologist who is not affiliated with the boycott activists, told Human Rights Watch that she was attending the performance with her husband and 6-year-old daughter and that police assaulted her when she tried to intervene.
In a statement published on April 13, the Culture Ministry accused the protesters of “violence” and using “insulting language,” and said police removed them to maintain “order and public safety.” The participants and other witnesses Human Rights Watch interviewed denied these claims. No violence or abusive language appears in two videos, viewed by Human Rights Watch, in which members of the audience and protesters filmed the incident on their mobile phones.
The four men said that the police drove them to the main Ramallah police station, where they saw several of the plain-clothes officers who had beaten them in the theater. For two hours, police officers refused to answer the men’s questions about whether they were under arrest and whether they had broken any laws. After midnight, the men said, the deputy director of the police detective unit told the men that they would be released if they signed pledges “not to violate Palestinian laws or participate in disobedience,” on pain of an unspecified fine. The men refused, seeing it as an admission of guilt, they said.
The police detained the men overnight and took them the next morning to Ramallah Magistrates Court, where a prosecutor charged the men with disturbing the peace and provoking a riot under the Jordanian Criminal Procedure Code, in force in the West Bank, according to the men and local news reports.