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The Right to Education Campaign expresses grave concern over the repeated Israeli attacks, assaults, and detentions of Birzeit University students which have increased in intensity and recently included the expulsion of students, preventing them from reaching the university and practicing their right to education.
On March 14, 2019, four students were arrested by Israeli occupying forces during down. Furthermore, the Israeli occupying forces issued a four-month expulsion order against Sae’da Al Zaa’rir, a graduate and former student council activist, and a one-month expulsion order against current student Ola Totah.
These measures represent a flagrant disregard of Israel’s obligations under international law that stipulates that an occupying power must protect universities as spaces of education. They not only jeopardize the physical well-being of students and interrupt the normal conduct of university and student lives but also deprive students of their basic right of political participation in the upcoming democratic elections for student council, intended to be held next month.
The assaults and violations fall in line with the pattern of aggression that has been carried out by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian academic freedom and freedom of movement. They violate basic human rights, yet they are part of the systematic oppressive measures by which Israeli authorities aim to undermine the foundation of the Palestinian education system and to terrorize Palestinian youth into submission, especially those who participate in Birzeit University’s youth activism.
Such outrageous acts violate international laws and norms that guarantee the right of education which has been established as a fundamental human right in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
These regular attacks furthermore violate student’s right to life and their right to liberty and equality. Palestinians aspire to live by the values of democracy, freedom of speech, and respect for human rights. These violations will not lessen the pivotal role education plays in Palestinian society nor will they deter our commitment to higher education and to the democratic values that have guided Birzeit University ever since its establishment as a small school for girls more than a century ago.
The Right to Education Campaign calls upon all international organizations -including all parliamentary representatives, decision makers and university communities- to condemn these acts and the underlying policies, to hold Israel accountable for crimes that breach Palestinian youth’s right to education, and to take immediate action to stop such repressive measures in order to protect the right to academic freedom for Palestinians.