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: November 19, 2018

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Birzeit University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Palestine (OPT)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 19, 2018, Israeli authorities reportedly detained Birzeit University (BZU) student Yehya Rabie.

Mr. Rabie is a third-year student of Business and Economics and head of the student council of BZU. On November 19, authorities reportedly raided Rabie’s home in the al-Mazraa al-Gharbiyeh village and detained him. Sources indicate that the detention of Rabie was part of a series of raids and detentions targeting 22 Palestinians, including students, in the West Bank. Authorities claim that Rabie was arrested for “suspected involvement in terror activity.” As of this report, however, information regarding the evidentiary basis for the allegations against him has not been disclosed, and he does not appear to have been charged with a crime.

Birzeit University has reported that, since 2012, Israeli authorities have taken into custody twenty BZU student council representatives, including former student council president Omar Kiswani, who was detained during an undercover campus raid on March 7, 2018 (see report).

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention of a student in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of association — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from arbitrary detentions of students in connection with such conduct, so long as it is exercised peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.