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: April 07, 2019

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):An-Najah National University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Palestine (OPT)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 7, 2019, Palestinian Authority (PA) officials reportedly abducted and imprisoned Musa Dweikat, a student at An-Najah National University, in apparent retaliation for his association with an Islamic student bloc.

A video of the incident shows a group of men reported to be plainclothes PA police, one brandishing a pistol, restraining a man identified as Dweikat, before pinning him to the road in front of An-Najah National University, and then forcing him into a gray van and departing the scene. Dweikat’s family has reportedly since received word that he is being held at Jericho Prison, a facility operated by the PA.

Dweikat is a well-known activist associated with An-Najah National University’s Islamic student block. He has reportedly been detained in connection to his activism on two previous occasions. As of this report, the PA does not appear to have disclosed publicly the basis for Dweikat’s detention. After the video of Dweikat’s arrest sparked public anger, PA officials reportedly asked the Independent Commission for Human Rights to investigate the incident.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the apparently arbitrary detention of a student in apparent connection to his association with a campus student groupconduct 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. 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.