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: June 26, 2022

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Birzeit University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Palestine (OPT)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 26, 2022, members of the Palestinian Authority security forces arrested Qassam Hamayel, a Birzeit University student affiliated with the Hamas-affiliated Islamic bloc and active in student government, as he was leaving campus.

Reports indicate that security forces in a civilian car stopped Qassam Hamayel as he left Birzeit University. They detained him, and took him to Jericho Prison, where he was interrogated about his student union activities. Mr. Hamayel’s detention has since been extended on multiple occasions.

Mr. Hamayel’s arrest comes at a time of escalating political detentions at Palestinian universities.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of a student, apparently for his political affiliation and exercise of the right to freedoms of expression and association – conduct which 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 Palestine is party. Authorities have an obligation to refrain from taking action to restrict or punish expressive and political activity, so long as it is peaceful and responsible. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, the intimidation, detention, and assault of students undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.