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Right to Education Campaign, Birzeit University, 13 December 2004
Fadi Hamad, the President of Birzeit University Student Council, was arrested by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Sunday 12 December at 12.30 AM. A 3rd year student of Commerce and Economics at Birzeit University, Fadi became Student Council President after the previously elected President, Mohammad Quran, was also arrested by the IOF just five months ago on 15 July 2004. Mohammad was sentenced to 16 months in an Israeli prison, with the sole charge made against him being his activism in the Student Council.
All student representatives in Palestinian universities are regularly targeted by the IOF and have been for many years. Currently, four out of the total eleven members on the Executive of Birzeit University Student Council are being held in Israeli prisons. The Executive is comprised of the President and the heads of ten Student Council committees, which include the Cultural, Health, Social, Financial, Sports, Arts and Media committees. The harassment and arrest of student leaders creates considerable apprehension among students and seriously undermines essential student activities on campus.
There are currently 78 Birzeit University students in Israeli prisons. Approximately a quarter of them are being held without charge, either in administrative detention or under prolonged periods of interrogation, and less than half of them have actually been to trial. These figures do not include the many more students who are arbitrarily arrested and detained for short periods as this experience is so common that it often goes unreported by students.
The well known Israeli military policy of ‘administrative detention’- imprisonment without charge or trial – means that any information or evidence relating to a case is declared ‘secret’ and withheld from both the detainee and his or her lawyer. Some student prisoners have been held in administrative detention for years, including Birzeit student Khader Raddad who has been held for over two years without charge, trial or knowledge as to why he was even arrested.
The arrest of Fadi Hamad is the latest violation in a series of recent attacks against the Birzeit University community which included last month the illegal deportation of four Birzeit students to the Gaza Strip and a major night raid on student homes and dormitories in the town of Birzeit on the night of 29 November 2004, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Birzeit University strongly condemns the arrest of Fadi Hamad and all student prisoners and calls on human rights organizations and all concerned individuals, organizations and institutions around the world to support Palestinians’ right to academic freedom now.
For more information on the Israeli Occupation’s violations against Palestinian students’ right to education and how to support the Right to Education Campaign please visit http://right2edu.birzeit.edu or email firstname.lastname@example.org