With great shock and sorrow, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the murder of Italian activist, Vittorio Arrigoni. On Friday morning, 15 April 2011, Vittorio’s body was found in an abandoned house in the north of the Gaza Strip, following his murder at the hands of kidnappers.The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and its entire staff, gravely condemns this crime, which targets our inherent human dignity, and the values and traditions of the lawful struggle for freedom and justice. It is this human struggle which connects Gazan’s – locked behind the closed door of the Gaza Strip – with the outside world, and inspires countless individuals to stand as human rights defenders.
PCHR calls upon the government in Gaza to prosecute the perpetrators. Furthermore, all necessary measures must be taken to secure the safety of international activists in the Gaza Strip.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, on Thursday evening, 14 April 2011, a group named ‘Group of the Companion Mohammed Bin Maslamah’ announced the kidnapping of the Italian journalist, Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, a prominent member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and a human rights defender.
In a video posted on the Youtube website, the group demanded the release of detained members of the group, affiliates of the so-called ‘Salafist Jihadist Group’. The kidnappers threatened to kill Arrigoni if the government in Gaza did not meet their demands within 30 hours.
In a grave development, contrary to fundamental values shared by all Palestinians, the group carried out their threat. On Friday morning, 15 April 2011, security services found the body of Arrigoni in a house located in the ‘Amer project area, west of al-Karamah building in the west of Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip. In his testimony, a PCHR staff-member reported signs of beating on the victim’s face, signs of handcuffs on his hands, and signs of strangulation around his neck.
The Ministry of Interior in Gaza issued a press release on Friday, condemning this heinous crime. It declared the arrest of two members of the group and the continued search for others.
Arrigoni had worked in Gaza since 2008, when he arrived on board the ‘Free Gaza’ flotilla, organized to break the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip.
He devoted himself to the defense of Palestinians’ rights, and participated in a number of activities against the closure, against violations committed by Israeli Forces against Palestinian civilians, particularly fishermen, and against the Israeli decision to impose a ‘buffer zone’ in the Gaza Strip.
He was arrested by Israel forces on18 November 2008, while he was accompanying a number of fishermen off the shores of Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip. However, he returned to Gaza a few months later via Rafah International Crossing.
Arrigoni was also in the West Bank for a few years before coming to Gaza. He has been known for his activity with the International Solidarity Movement.
PCHR reiterates its condemnation of this heinous crime, and:
1. Calls upon the government in Gaza to conduct an effective and prompt investigation to identify the circumstances of the crime, prosecute the perpetrators, and publish the investigations’ results;
2. Appreciates the role played by the International Solidarity Movement and other human rights defenders in the occupied Palestinian territory;
3. Calls upon the international community, political powers and Palestinian people to condemn this crime and organize peaceful activities against it.