3 October 2023
Dear Lisa Stadelbauer, Ambassador of Canada to Israel
We write on behalf of Faculty for Palestine (F4P) Canada to condemn the Israeli military’s invasion of Birzeit University (BZU) on September 24, 2023, one day after the start of the 2023-24 academic year. F4P includes over 600 faculty from over 40 universities and 15 colleges across Canada. We condemn in the strongest terms the forcible entrance of undercover Israeli special military forces and military vehicles that laid siege to the campus and arrested 8 Palestinian students on September 24th. The identified students arrested include: Abdulmajid Hassan (the elected Student Council President), Amro Khalil, Abdullah Mohammad, Ahmed Awaidat, Yahya Farah, Mahmoud Nakhleh, Hassan Alwan, and Abdullah Abu Qiyas. We also oppose the violent assault on the university’s security guards and the break in and vandalization of the Student Council’s office at BZU.
Birzeit University has a long history of fostering education, promoting critical thinking, and providing opportunities for Palestinian students to exercise their right to education, to fulfill their potential, and to pursue their dreams and aspirations. The arrest of these young scholars disrupts their educational journeys and violates their human rights. Palestinian students, like students elsewhere in the world, have the right to education, the right to dissent, and the right to protest and organize in ways they see fit while living under military occupation.
BZU, located in the West Bank, has been subject to military raids, arrest campaigns, and closure since the establishment of the university. In 2022 several Palestinian students were shot at and imprisoned by the Israeli military. The recurring invasions of Palestinian universities, particularly BZU, and the arrests and detention of Palestinian students are a grave violation of the basic right to education and academic freedom. Currently the number of Palestinian students from BZU being held in Israeli prisons exceeds 80. The arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinian students are not only a violation of the right to education enshrined in Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). They also violate Article 13 of the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESR). As a signatory of the UDHR and ICESR, Israel is obligated to uphold these rights under international law.
We recognize that these recurring invasions of Palestinian education institutions are an extension of the Israeli military occupation and its systematic policy to besiege and destroy the educational system in Palestine.
We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the arrested BZU students. As academics we also demand that the rights of these students are protected in accordance with international law. In the meantime, we express our unconditional support and solidarity with the arrested students, faculty, and staff of Birzeit University and the BZU Right to Education Campaign, and call for an end to Israel’s military invasions of Palestinian educational institutions.
Faculty for Palestine – Canada
Hearing Palestine, University of Toronto
Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs Canada
Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories
David Da Silva, Canada’s Representative to the Palestinian Authority
Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the rights of opinion and expression
Yoav Kisch, Israeli Minister of Education
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN Human Rights Office Ramallah
Dr. Talal Shahwan, President of Birzeit UniversityThe Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University