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Saturday, March 19, 2011
PCHR Condemns [Palestinian] Assault on Educational Institutions and Use of Force to Disperse Peaceful Assemblies in Gaza

PCHR
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Press Release

Ref: 19/2011

Date: 17 March 2011

Time: 13:00 GMT

PCHR Condemns Assault on Educational Institutions and Use of Force to
Disperse Peaceful Assemblies in Gaza

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns attacks by
persons wearing civilian clothes and carrying sticks and clubs on students
inside the campuses of al-Azhar University and al-Quds Open University
yesterday, which were accompanied by raids by the police and security
officers into the two campuses. PCHR condemns also detention of a number of
young men who organized a set-in near the ICRC office by the Internal
Security Service. PCHR calls upon the government in Gaza to seriously
investigate these attacks, which recurred by civilian person; to bring them
to justice; and to respect the sanctity of universities, the right to
peaceful assembly and press freedoms, which are ensured under the
constitution and international human rights instruments.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR and eyewitnesses' accounts, at
approximately 10:00 on Wednesday, 16 March 2011, hundreds of students
gathered on the main yard of al-Azhar University in the west of Gaza City,
raising Palestinian flags and articulating calls for ending political
division in the Palestinian Authority. At approximately 11:50, many persons
wearing civilian clothes and carrying sticks and clubs broke into the campus
and indiscriminately beat and insulted students. Dozens of students
sustained bruises, and a number of them sustained fractures to the limbs.[1]
After the students had been dispersed, many of them got out of the
university. The Palestinian police arrived at the area and evacuated the
vicinity of the campus. They also broke into the campus and chased a staff
member. The police remained inside the campus until 14:45.

In the same context, security officers prevented 3 media crews from covering
these events:

1) Al-Jazeera English Channel;

2) Al-Arabiya Satellite Channel; and

3) Reuters News Agency.

It is worth noting that Dr. Abdul Khaliq al-Farra, President of al-Azhar
University, had received phone calls on Tuesday, 15 March 2011, from
security services demanding him to close the university for three days. Dr.
al-Farra stated to a PCHR field worker that he received phone calls from the
police operations department, universities security department and the
Internal Security Service, demanding him to close the university for three
days, and holding him responsible for any gatherings in the university and
consequent events.

At approximately 12:00 also on Wednesday, a number of young men gathered in
front of the ICRC office in al-Jalaa' Street in the north of Gaza City,
calling for ending political divisions and ensuring their right to peaceful
assembly. Immediately, two vehicles arrived at the area. Six armed
persons, including two ones wearing military uniform, stepped down and
arrested 13 young men. The detainees were taken to the Internal Security
Service department in Ansar security compound, where they were interrogated
about their participation in gatherings calling for an end of political
division. They were also forced to sign an oath not to participate in any
gathering that is not licensed by the government in Gaza, and they were
released in the evening. One of them told a PCHR field worker that he was
beaten by Internal Security Service officers, and he was subjected to
methods of torture during interrogation.[2]

In the same context, at approximately 13:30, many persons wearing civilian
clothes and carrying sticks, clubs and firearms, and police officers broke
into the campus of al-Quds Open University in al-Nasser neighborhood in the
northwest of Gaza City. They violently beat and chased students inside the
campus. Many students sustained bruises and fractures throughout the body.

In his testimony to PCHR, a student stated:

"I got out of the campus after persons wearing civilian clothes had attacked
us inside the campus. When I was walking near the campus, a white mini bus
stopped near me. A number of persons stepped down from the bus, violently
beat me and pushed me into the bus. The bus stopped on a branch road behind
al-Nasser Hospital. They took me out of the bus and violently beat me,
focusing on my legs and knees. They then took me into the bus again and
dumped me near the university. I was taken to a hospital in Jabalya as I
sustained a fracture to the left knee and a bruise to the right one."

PCHR strongly condemns these events, including the raids on the campuses of
al-Azhar University and al-Quds Open University, beating students and
detention of participants in a sit-in, and:

1. Emphasizes that the right to peaceful assembly and press freedoms
are ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights
standards.

2. Adheres to the sanctity of public facilities, especially
universities, and respect for academic liberties, and calls for any actions
with regard to them to be according to acceptable standards and the law.

3. Demands the government in Gaza to seriously investigate the
recurrence of attacks by persons wearing civilian clothes on students,
search for those persons and bring them to justice.

4. Reiterates denunciation of beating and insulting female students by
police officers and persons wearing civilian clothes.

5. Calls upon Palestinian security services to respect international
human rights standards, the Palestinian Basic Law and relevant laws.

Public Document

**************************************

For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8
2824776 - 2825893

PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip.
E-mail: pchr@pchrgaza.org, Webpage http://www.pchrgaza.org

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[1] PCHR keeps their names.

[2] PCHR keeps his name.

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