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Amany Nabut, Student, Birzeit University, 15 September 2008
Living in an occupied country such as Palestine makes it essential for each and every person to be aware of his/ her rights. That is why we, as university students, are continuously educated on this subject. As part of the Right to Education Campaign’s Know Your Rights training, they invited Addameer prisoners’ support and human rights association to Birzeit University to give training sessions to students in order to increase our knowledge of prisoners’ rights. The lecture was very useful and important for many students who did not have much knowledge about the experience of being arrested and being put into an Israeli prison.
Simply being a student in Palestine puts one at risk of being arrested, even if he/ she has done nothing in the field of resisting the occupation, so it is possible for any of us to be arrested and put into prison at any time – this is why it’s so important for us to know our rights and every single piece of information which could help us if we ever found ourselves in such a situation. It’s also important to know all the stages of arrest, starting from being arrested from your home, street, checkpoint or any place, going through investigation which is usually accompanied with physical and psychological torture, being taken to court, and ending up with being put into prison for a period of time – this sums up the programme of your trip to prison.
Many university students have been put in prison, and many of them with no justifiable cause; any sort of activity may be a good enough cause to make you guilty in front of the Israeli court – even if it was as simple as organizing a book exhibition. But knowing our rights can help us so much, because if we had no knowledge of them there will be no opportunity for us to ask for them – since they are usually ignored by the Israelis. Mahmood Hassan, the lawyer from Addameer association, spoke to us about the rights a prisoner has during the different stages of arrest, e.g. the right to call his/ her lawyer, the right to hygiene, the right for the family to know where he/ she is, the right to silence under interrogation. Usually the Israelis do not inform the prisoners about their rights, so it is important for us to know them before hand, in case of arrest.
The days go on, and the conflict is still there – but the question is, why are we put into these circumstances while we are simply doing nothing but trying to receive our education? Many students have been arrested and obviously many others are going to walk on the same path, so I hope this will be a call for all Palestinian students to be aware of their rights and to stand up for them, and may this also be a call to all students around the world to support Palestinian students’ right to education – a fundamental human right which is basic to human freedom.
Amany is a business major in her fourth year of studies at Birzeit University. She is also a volunteer with the Right to Education Campaign.