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: July 07, 2021

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Birzeit University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Palestine (OPT)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On July 7, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) detained Layan Nasir, a nutrition student at Birzeit University, based on her alleged membership in a prohibited student organization.

IDF forces raided Nasir’s family home, detained her, and brought her to the Ofer Military Camp, where they interrogated her before taking her to Damon Prison on July 14. On August 26, Nasir was released on 24,000 NTS bail (roughly $7,500 USD). She was expected to appear in the Ofer Military Court on October 5. She reportedly faces charges based on her alleged membership in the Democratic Progressive Student Pole, a left-wing student group at Birzeit that the IDF declared an “unlawful association” in December 2020.

The Right to Education Campaign, a group established at Birzeit University, reported in August 2021 that 58 of Birzeit students were arrested by Israel forces between September 2020 and July 2021 and that 80 students, including students detained prior to September 2020, remained in Israeli detention facilities.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary arrest of a student in apparent retaliation for their nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association — conduct that is expressly protected by 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 arrests and detentions that restrict or retaliate against nonviolent student expression. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, detentions that target nonviolent student expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.