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Smear campaign and threats against Palestinian NGO Al-Haq continues

June 4, 2016 2:45 P.M. (Updated: June 5, 2016 4:58 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq has continued to face a barrage of online harassment and intimidation towards its employees after first reporting receiving death threats in March, the group said in a press release published Saturday.

Al-Haq is an independent rights organization based in Ramallah which has documented violations of individual and collective human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory since 1979.

“Al-Haq continues to be the focus of an unrelenting smear campaign to delegitimize the organization and its staff. Anonymous emails targeting staff have continued with the aim of sowing fear and discontent amongst staff, and to derail the work of the organisation,” the statement said.

While the group has received an outpouring of international solidarity and support, attempts to intimidate Al-Haq, however, have "continued and broadened” since the release of a statement regarding death threats to both Al-Haq’s Europe representative and Al-Haq’s director in March.

The press release Saturday also said that fake flyers printed with Al-Haq’s name and logo were dispersed earlier this week advertising a campaign to raise donations for Holland’s Muslim and refugee community “in a false attempt to involve Al-Haq in something that is unequivocally not in its line of work.”

Printed on the flyers was the home address of Al-Haq’s Europe representative as the collection point for the donations, the statement added.

In spite of the smear campaign against the group which has continued unabated for nine months, Al-Haq said in their press release that they would “continue to document and report on all human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, and will seek justice for victims, including through cooperating with the International Criminal Court.”

The group noted in March that while it “has faced various forms of attack and smear campaigns by the Israeli authorities” since its inception, it had faced a growing number of anonymous threats and attempts to tarnish its reputation since September, including accusations of corruption and fraud.

The accusations were discredited in November, after Al-Haq requested audits of its own accounting to dispel suspicions of wrongdoing.

The intimidation tactics reportedly escalated in late February, when the group received threats “directly connecting the risk to the life of the staff member with Al-Haq’s work regarding the International Criminal Court.”

The NGO said it had notified the “appropriate authorities” and that an investigation had been opened, however adding that it was “convinced” that Israeli authorities were behind the smear campaign.
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