An LGBTQ group in the Middle East reports a sudden increase on arrests and abductions of pro-queer activists by the Palestinian Authority.
The organization alQaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society released a statement slamming a recent increase in police violence.
“Our arrested friends and fellow activists report military-style investigations involving violence, blackmailing, and interrogations marked by coercive, offensive, and insulting questions regarding private lives, their connections to alQaws, and attempts to coerce these individuals to collaborate with the PA in order to arrest and persecute others,” the statement reads.
“This strategy has created threatening conditions for alQaws activists, placing already politically or socially vulnerable individuals at an even greater risk," the statement continued. "The police abductions, persecution and interrogations of activists and individuals are unjust, immoral, and illegal.”
The Palestinian Authority in August announced a ban on all pro-LGBTQ activism by alQaws. That drew international media attention and scrutiny by human rights groups, which quelled any enforcement of the ban, activists report.
But as outside scrutiny waned, violence against LGBTQ citizens increased unchecked.
“When people demanded the police officially and publicly denounce their statement and affirm the legality of alQaws’ work, the police refused. With the statement not officially stricken from the public record, the violence it called for against LGBTQ people in Palestine has continued— unabated, with greater frequency and intensity,” the alQaws statement reads.
Much of that comes from police, according to the group who say that since August most violence they have faced comes from officers themselves.
And in the past few weeks, there has been an apparent effort to take more activists into custody.
“Alarmingly, we have witnessed more than a dozen cases of targeting and harassment that have led to numerous arrests — or rather abductions — in recent weeks. We believe there are many more cases that have not reached us,” the statement reads.
The group committed to continue its work and to provide a safe haven for activists and individuals facing oppression by police.
“We call on all individuals who are vulnerable to persecution and blackmail to contact us and ask for support. We also demand the official Palestinian entities to immediately stop this violence and persecution of our communities,” the statement concludes.
“We must take legal action during these times, but we are well aware that community support is fundamental to our continuity and strength.”