Al Mezan for Human Rights received 15 complaints from young men in Gaza whose hair was forcibly partly cut; expect the real number to be higher; Latest arrests are part of new Hamas campaign to eradicate ‘western’ influence on Gaza culture, including ‘use of hair gel; Al Mezan denounced these practices by Gaza government as unacceptable restrictions on personal freedom.
Since the beginning of April 2013, Gaza’s security forces started a campaign that targeted mainly young men’s hairstyle. Any young man walking on the street with the wrong haircut is arrested, have their hair partly shaved and ordered to sign a declaration never to return to such haircut as a condition to release them.
“I was sitting in front of my house when a white police jeep arrived and policemen ordered me to get in the jeep. They took me to Ash-Sheja’iya police station and led me to the roof of the station where they blindfolded and cuffed me. They then made me set on the ground and to take off my shoes. They tied my legs, lifted them up, and beat me on them. They then shaved my hair and forced me to sign a declaration that I did not know what it said because I cannot read and write,” A. H., 36, stated to Al Mezan’s lawyer.
In another affidavit to Al Mezan, I. H., 25, stated that he was at his work when a white military jeep arrived at his work. Three men dressed in civilian clothes ordered him to accompany them. “They dragged me and pushed me into the jeep,’ he said. “They ordered me to cover my head with my jacket, then took me to the roof of the police station and ordered me to sit on the ground and take my shoes off. Then, they tied my legs and beat me on the feet for about five minutes. They then took me to the yard and ordered me to keep jumping. A police officer came with a trimming machine and trimmed part of my hair”, H.I informed Al Mezan.
Samir Zaqout, Al Mezan’s Director of Monitoring stated: “The police practices are considered violations of personal freedom and grave violations of the Palestinian Basic Law, which secures the respect of personal freedom. The recent practices by the law enforcement officers are not only humiliation for people but also are seen as some of the oldest forms of torture and degrading treatment. It is clear to us that the police violations follow a pattern that formed a deliberate policy.”
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the recent practices by the Gaza government’s police and calls on the government to investigate the aforementioned incidents as well as other incident and to bring perpetrators to justice.