Authorities severely restrict public freedoms in Jordan

Demonstration in Amman Jordan, near the Israeli embassy on April 5, 2025 in support of Gaza. Screenshot from a video on Sameer Mashhour's Twitter feed. Fair use.

This article was originally published in Gulf Center for Human Rights on April 5, 2024. An edited version is republished on Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement, with links to provide further clarification.

The streets of Jordan are witnessing a massive wave of tension and anger over current political events and the war in Gaza. This has led to thousands of Jordanian citizens taking to the streets, expressing their solidarity with the Palestinian people, and demanding that the Jordanian government make decisive decisions to express their support for them.

Since the start of the Israeli military campaign against Gaza in response to the attack in Israel on October 7, 2023, and the continuation of the horrific war crimes that claimed the lives of over 33,000 Palestinians, the Jordanian public has been angry, declaring a state of mourning and mobilization in solidarity with the people of the besieged Gaza Strip and denouncing the war crimes. About one million Jordanians went out to express their solidarity with Palestinians and denounce the war on Gaza through peaceful marches and vigils in all governorates.

Recent events during the holy month of Ramadan have contributed to fueling popular anger and daily demonstrations in front of the Israeli embassy in the vicinity of the Rabieh area in the capital, Amman. 

Protesters have carried signs with slogans denouncing the crimes committed in the Gaza Strip and demanding that the government sever relations with Tel Aviv and cancel the peace agreement with the Israeli government.

The Jordanian authorities have arrested many people for their support or participation in these demonstrations, and some of them were charged under the new Cybercrime Law that was approved in August 2023, which came with a set of articles that are now used by the authorities in order to restrict freedoms and increase censorship of freedom of expression and opinion.

Press reports have confirmed the widespread arrests of hundreds of citizens, including some passersby, during popular protests in solidarity with the residents of Gaza from October 2023 until now. 

The Cybercrime Law of 2023 has been used to bring charges against peaceful protesters and imprison them for posts they published on social media networks declaring their full solidarity with the residents of Gaza, their anger at the scale of crimes committed against innocent citizens there, especially women and children, and their call to sever diplomatic relations with Israel and cancel the economic agreements signed with it. Some of them were charged for calling on others to organise popular protests and declare a general strike throughout the country.

The recent protests entered a decisive phase in the last week of March 2024, as citizens began to go out daily following multiple massacres in Gaza, but the Jordanian security forces began to intervene directly and forcefully dispersed the demonstrations and marches in support of Gaza.

On March 24, 2024, security forces arrested hundreds of citizens, including a number of civil society activists. Activists circulated many clips of demonstrators gathering in the vicinity of the Israeli embassy on the same day, and Jordanian security forces arresting protesters on the grounds that they were vandalizing public property.

The arrests continued beyong March 24. Press reports confirmed that trade union activist and engineer Maysara Malas was among the detainees, arrested on March 30, 2024, while he was in the vicinity of the Israeli embassy.  The authorities also raided his house and confiscated his computers and mobile phones.

Also on March 30, 2024, Jordanian security forces arrested Ziad Ibhais, a Palestinian writer and researcher in Jerusalem affairs, and civil society activists Ruwaida Abu Radi and Nour Abu Ghosh, in addition to the head of the Supreme Committee of the Youth Sector of the Islamic Action Front Party, political activist Moataz Al-Harout, and the secretary of the sector, activist and politician Hamza Al-Shaghnoubi in Amman. The sources stated that Al-Harout was arrested in a public place, while Al-Shaghnoubi was arrested from his workplace in the Nuzha area in Amman. They were taken to the Al-Rashid security center, and have not yet been informed of the charges against them.

These detentions come in the context of intensive arrests carried out by the Jordanian security services, which included dozens of political activists who participated in the recent popular movement, most of whom are Islamists.

Security forces targeted protesting women and practiced unjustified violence against them, in flagrant violation of their civil and human rights. On the evening of March 30, 2024, security forces arrested a group of women participating in the massive popular march near the Israeli embassy. Among them were women protestors Israa Khalafat, Nour Hamdan, and Israa Khreisat.

Citizens were angered by a video clip that was widely circulated on social media networks showing members of the security forces arresting a young woman participating in the popular march near the Israeli embassy, forcefully dragging her, and demanded the dismissal of the Minister of Interior. This clearly reflects the cruelty with which the security forces deal with women who participate in popular protests.

New coverage: the moment a young women was arrested i in a demonstration around the Israeli embassy in Amman. Al Quds network

These arrests of women and men during the demonstrations are considered a blatant violation of international agreements and protocols protecting the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, which Jordan has ratified and which the Constitution guarantees to all Jordanians.

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