SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: March 26, 2018

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Al-Azhar University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Palestine (OPT)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 26, 2018, Hamas security forces reportedly attacked students who were engaged in a nonviolent protest on the campus of Al-Azhar University in the Gaza Strip in Palestine.

The protest arose after a group of students who were unable to pay tuition were informed that they would not be allowed to to sit for exams. They requested that they be permitted to pay back tuition in installments — a request the university denied. The students staged a sit-in on campus in response, and the university called Hamas security authorities to disperse them. At least five students alleged that they had been beaten by the Hamas authorities, and further that Hamas prevented ambulances from getting to campus.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force by police in apparent retaliation against   the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct which is protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights. State and university authorities have a responsibility to not interfere with such rights and to refrain from the use of force intended to restrict them. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions have a chilling effect on academic freedom, freedom of expression, and association, and undermine democratic society generally.