Dutch stop funding Palestinian NGO, question Israeli charges

The Netherlands said it will stop funding a Palestinian civil society group recently outlawed as a terrorist organization by Israel but rejected Israel's main claims about the group following its own audit. (AP Photo)
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Updated 06 January 2022

Dutch stop funding Palestinian NGO, question Israeli charges

  • The Dutch government said Wednesday it found no evidence that the Union of Agricultural Work Committees had “organizational ties” to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
  • The government nevertheless decided to stop the funding

JERUSALEM: The Netherlands said it will stop funding a Palestinian civil society group recently outlawed as a terrorist organization by Israel but rejected Israel’s main claims about the group following its own audit.
The Dutch government said Wednesday it found no evidence that the Union of Agricultural Work Committees had “organizational ties” to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a left-wing militant group, or was involved in funding or carrying out terrorism, as Israel has alleged.
The government nevertheless decided to stop the funding because it found evidence that individual members of the civil society group were linked to the PFLP, which has a political party as well as an armed wing, and is considered a terrorist group by Israel and Western countries.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the decision, saying UAWC and the five other Palestinian civil society groups it designated as terrorist organizations in October are an “organic part” of the PFLP. Two former UAWC employees have been arrested and accused of carrying out a bombing in the occupied West Bank in August 2019 that killed an Israeli teenager, prompting the Dutch government to suspend funding pending an independent investigation.
UAWC said the funding cut-off announced this week was “shocking and deeply troubling,” as the Dutch had been one of their main donors since 2013. The group said it has no political affiliations and does not concern itself with the private political activities of its employees.
It said the Dutch decision was a “breach of trust” at a time when “Palestinian civil society is under unprecedented attack.”
Israel has provided little evidence to support its assertions that the six NGOs are fronts for the PFLP, and critics say the move is part of a wider crackdown on Palestinian activism. The decision makes it illegal to fund or support the groups and paves the way for the military to forcibly shut them down, though it has yet to do so.
The Dutch government’s conclusions stem from an independent audit carried out by Proximities Risk Consultancy. UAWC said it cooperated with the investigation but found “multiple factual inaccuracies, including several mistaken identities” in the findings. Proximities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A letter sent from the Dutch ministers of foreign development and foreign affairs to the Dutch parliament said the audit “has made it sufficiently plausible that there have been ties at the individual level between employees and board members of UAWC and the PFLP for some time.”
“The large number of UAWC board members with a dual mandate is particularly worrisome,” it added. “For the Cabinet, the findings about individual ties between UAWC and the PFLP and the lack of openness about this from UAWC, also during the investigation, are sufficient reason to no longer fund UAWC’s activities.”
The other groups outlawed by Israel are the Al-Haq human rights group, the Addameer prisoner rights group, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Bisan Center for Research and Development and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.
All are based in the occupied West Bank, which Israel seized in the 1967 war. The Palestinians want the West Bank to form the main part of their future state.


Canada sanctions Iran morality police as protests flare

Updated 26 September 2022

Canada sanctions Iran morality police as protests flare

  • “We will implement sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities, including Iran’s so-called morality police,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said

OTTAWA: Canada on Monday announced sanctions against Iranian officials over the Islamic republic’s lethal crackdown on protests driven by the death of a young woman after her arrest by the morality police.
“We will implement sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities, including Iran’s so-called morality police,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference.
“We join our voices, the voices of all Canadians, to the millions of people around the world demanding that the Iranian government listen to their people, end their repression of freedoms and rights and let women and all Iranians live their lives and express themselves peacefully.”


Leading Iran cleric calls on authorities to 'listen to people'

Updated 26 September 2022

Leading Iran cleric calls on authorities to 'listen to people'

  • Protests ignited by a young woman's death in morality police custody show no sign of letting up
  • Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani has long been aligned with ultra-conservative establishment

TEHERAN: A leading Iranian cleric has urged authorities "to listen to the people", as protests ignited by a young woman's death in morality police custody show no sign of letting up.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets of major cities across Iran, including the capital Teheran, for 10 straight nights since the death of Mahsa Amini.

The 22-year-old was pronounced dead on Sept 16, three days after her arrest in the capital for allegedly breaching Iran's dress code for women.

"The leaders must listen to the demands of the people, resolve their problems and show sensitivity to their rights," said Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani in a statement posted on his website on Sunday.

The powerful 97-year-old cleric has long been aligned with the country's ultra-conservative establishment and strongly backed supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on several occasions - notably during the 2009 protests against the reelection of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Any insult to the sanctities and any attack on the rights of the people and public property are condemned," Hamedani added.

At least 41 people have been killed since the protests began on Sept 16, mostly protesters but including security forces, according to an official toll.

The protests have spread to several cities, where demonstrators have shouted slogans against the authorities, according to local media.

More than 1,200 demonstrators, reformist activists and journalists have been arrested during the mostly night-time demonstrations across the country.

On Sept 18, Grand Ayatollah Assadollah Bayat Zanjani, a cleric seen as close to the reformists, denounced what he said were "illegitimate" and "illegal" actions behind the "regrettable incident" of Amini's death.


Germany urges Iran to allow protests after summoning ambassador

Updated 26 September 2022

Germany urges Iran to allow protests after summoning ambassador

  • “We call on the Iranian authorities to allow peaceful protests and to not deploy further violence — in particular not fatal violence — against protesters,” the ministry said

BERLIN: Germany summoned the Iranian ambassador in Berlin on Monday in order to urge Tehran to stop its violent crackdown on nationwide protests over the death of a woman in police custody, the German foreign ministry said.
“We call on the Iranian authorities to allow peaceful protests and to not deploy further violence — in particular not fatal violence — against protesters,” the ministry said on Twitter. “We also communicated that directly to the Iranian ambassador in Berlin today.”
Asked about the possibility of further sanctions on Tehran in response to the violence, a ministry spokesperson had earlier said, “we will consider all options” with other European Union states.
Last week, the United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s morality police over allegations of abuse of Iranian women. Washington said it held the unit responsible for the Sept. 16 death of the 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini after she was detained by morality police enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict restrictions on women’s dress. 


Iran says 450 protesters arrested in northern province

Updated 26 September 2022

Iran says 450 protesters arrested in northern province

  • Hundreds of demonstrators, activists and journalists have been arrested during the mostly night-time demonstrations
  • The unrest first broke out on September 16 after the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in custody of Iran's morality police

TEHRAN: Authorities in a northern Iran province have arrested 450 people during more than 10 days of protests following a young Kurdish woman’s death in morality policy custody, state media reported Monday.
Hundreds of demonstrators, reformist activists and journalists have been arrested during the mostly night-time demonstrations across the country since unrest first broke out after Mahsa Amini’s death was announced on September 16.
Amini, whose Kurdish first name was Jhina, was detained three days before that in Tehran for allegedly breaching rules mandating hijab head coverings and modest dress.
“During the troubles of the past days, 450 rioters have been arrested in Mazandaran,” the northern province’s chief prosecutor, Mohammad Karimi, was quoted as saying by official news agency IRNA.
They “have attacked government buildings and damaged public property in several parts of Mazandaran,” he added.
Local media reported that protesters were shouting anti-regime slogans, and Karimi said they were led by “foreign anti-revolutionary agents.”
On Saturday, authorities in the neighboring Guilan province announced the arrest of 739 people, including 60 women.
Iran’s judiciary chief, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, on Sunday “emphasised the need for decisive action without leniency” against the core instigators of the “riots,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online website said.
At least 41 people have died since the unrest began, mostly protesters but including members of the Islamic republic’s security forces, according to an official toll.
Photos published Monday by the Tasnim news agency showed protesters in Qom, a holy Shiite city about 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of the capital Tehran.
Security forces have released these images of “lead instigators,” Tasnim reported, asking residents to “identify them and inform the authorities.”


Iran says 450 protesters arrested in northern province

Updated 26 September 2022

Iran says 450 protesters arrested in northern province

  • Hundreds of demonstrators, reformist activists and journalists have been arrested during the demonstrations across the country

TEHRAN: Authorities in a northern Iran province have arrested 450 people during more than 10 days of protests following a young Kurdish woman’s death in morality policy custody, state media reported Monday.
Hundreds of demonstrators, reformist activists and journalists have been arrested during the mostly night-time demonstrations across the country since unrest first broke out after Mahsa Amini’s death was announced on September 16.
Amini, whose Kurdish first name was Jhina, was detained three days before that in Tehran for allegedly breaching rules mandating hijab head coverings and modest dress.
“During the troubles of the past days, 450 rioters have been arrested in Mazandaran,” the northern province’s chief prosecutor, Mohammad Karimi, was quoted as saying by official news agency IRNA.
They “have attacked government buildings and damaged public property in several parts of Mazandaran,” he added.
Local media reported that protesters were shouting anti-regime slogans, and Karimi said they were led by “foreign anti-revolutionary agents.”
On Saturday, authorities in the neighboring Guilan province announced the arrest of 739 people, including 60 women.
Iran’s judiciary chief, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, on Sunday “emphasised the need for decisive action without leniency” against the core instigators of the “riots,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online website said.
At least 41 people have died since the unrest began, mostly protesters but including members of the Islamic republic’s security forces, according to an official toll.
Photos published Monday by the Tasnim news agency showed protesters in Qom, a holy Shiite city about 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of the capital Tehran.
Security forces have released these images of “lead instigators,” Tasnim reported, asking residents to “identify them and inform the authorities.”