Date: 27 November 2008
Time: 10:00 GMT
PCHR Is Concerned Over Regrettable Incidents at Al-Aqsa University in Khan Yunis and Al-Azhar University in Gaza City
PCHR is concerned over acts of violence that took place at al-Aqsa University, the Khan Yunis branch, and at al-Azhar University in Gaza City, in the past two days between students affiliated to Fatah and Hamas movements. PCHR calls upon the Attorney-General’s office to investigate the intervention of security services into the two incidents, as PCHR’s investigations based on eyewitnesses’ testimonies indicate that security officers attacked a number of students. PCHR also reiterates its call for all parties to respect the neutrality of universities and academic institutions and to maintain academic and public freedoms which are ensured by the law.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 11:00 on Tuesday, 25 November 2008, acts of violence erupted in the campus of al-Aqsa University, Khan Yunis branch, between female students from the El-Shabeba Fatah Bloc and the Islamic block of Hamas who were organizing a ceremony in the University square to honor outstanding female students. The violence rapidly transformed into hand clashes and throwing stones and chairs. The police intervened and evacuated the female students. Female students who were beat by the police stated that the members of the police were deliberate to beat the students randomly with clubs and gun butts. 13 female students sustained injuries and bruises because of stone throwing and beating by the police.
The Dean of Students Affairs at the University stated to PCHR that the management of the University gave an approval to the Islamic block to hold the ceremony in a big hall; however, it was organized in the University square, which led to frictions between the students of the El-Shabeba Fatah Bloc and the Islamic block.
In a second accident, at approximately 16:20 on 24 November 2008, a number of students from the Islamic Block, who were identified to be members of the security services in Gaza, fired into the air in the campus of the Community College of al-Azhar University of Gaza, in Tal al-Hawa area in western Gaza City, to disperse a gathering of dozens of students from different factions who protested against a decision by the University management to exempt a number of students from the Islamic Block from tuitions. Eyewitnesses stated to PCHR
that a member of the Islamic Block, who had a gun, directly fired at Muntaser Olwan, a student who was thought to have organized the gathering, but he was not hurt. The University management demanded the students to evacuate the University campus, and the police arrived and arrested 10 students who were participating in the gathering. The arrested students were released in the same day, except Muntaser Olwan who was released on the following day. A number of the released students said to PCHR that they were beat by the police while transferring them in police vehicles and also in the main police headquarters in Gaza.
Islam Shahwan, the police spokesman, stated to PCHR on 26 November 2008 that the police started investigations into the accident and arrested members from the two parties in the problem for questioning. However, the Dean of the Community College of the al-Azhar Univerisity of Gaza stated that the security services did not arrest any of the students who fired.
1. Condemns all forms of violence, especially among students and members of the police within university campus.
2. Calls for investigations into possessing arms by students in the university campus. PCHR reiterates the right of the members of the security services to enroll in universities and pursue their study; however, it gravely views the conduct of the members of the security service within the university campus as members of security services and not as students, which is a continuation of the security chaos and misuse of weapons.
3. Calls for serious investigations into the two accidents by the relevant authorities and for bringing perpetrators to justice.
4. Calls for the respect of universities and academic and public freedoms that are guaranteed under the law, and requires all the parties to respect the neutrality of universities and academic institutions from the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Fatah movements.
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 – 2825893
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