x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Protesters in Jordan reject report into police beatings as 'not credible'

Jordanian interior ministry says both demonstrators and security staff at fault, and police 'mistook journalists and photographers for protesters during the clashes'.

Jordanian police beat a protester during a demonstration demanding reforms and the resignation of the prime minister, in Amman last week. AFP PHOTO/KHALIL MAZRAAWI Khalil Mazraawi / AFP Photo
Jordanian police beat a protester during a demonstration demanding reforms and the resignation of the prime minister, in Amman last week. AFP PHOTO/KHALIL MAZRAAWI Khalil Mazraawi / AFP Photo

AMMAN // Youth activists yesterday dismissed a police report into last week's violent demonstrations in the Jordanian capital, saying it lacked credibility, as they continued to press for reforms with a small rally of about 100 demonstrators in front of the interior minister's office.

"The police report is not credible," said a 21-year-old activist, who did not want to provide her name for publication. "The police should provide us with security. They used to distribute juice and water for us when protests began, but once they felt the heat they started beating people."

Police wielding clubs and batons dispersed a peaceful pro-reform protest last Friday in central Amman.

The clashes left 73 people injured and led to the arrest of four policemen accused of using excessive force. Those wounded included 32 policemen, 25 protesters and 16 journalists and photographers, according to the investigation.

Mazen Al Saket, the minister of interior, who yesterday announced the outcome of the police investigation, based on testimony from police and witnesses, blamed protesters in "leading positions" for the violence as well as "some of the public security department personnel".

The police report, published on Petra news agency, described the incident as "unfortunate" and an "individual act" and recommended that police and security officers be held accountable.

The report also said police mistook journalists and photographers for protesters during the clashes.

"Several members of the police lost their temper and acted against instructions given to them and that is to ensure maximum safety of protesters, journalists and to prevent clashes between demonstrators," said a security source who did not want to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to the media. "The report is transparent."

Protesters were not convinced with the report's results yesterday. "We want officials, particularly the minister of interior, to be held accountable, said Nihad Zuhair, a member of a youth movement called March 24.

Jamal Tahat, an independent analyst and activist in a movement calling for the king's position to be one of a figurehead, described the police report as a joke.

"I am not fully convinced that the policemen acted without orders. They must be punished," he said.

Protesters demanded that Jordan's intelligence service, Mukhabarat, remove their influence over Jordanian society and called for the country to establish a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary government.

One activist, shouting through a bullhorn at the protest yesterday, said the demonstrations would continue "until the regime is reformed".

A protest movement that sprang up in January has been generally peaceful. While there have been calls to curb King Abdullah II's powers, protesters have not called for toppling the regime.

 

smaayeh@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Associated Press