Birzeit University Students Protest Arrests by the Palestinian Authority

Birzeit University students stopped classes on Monday 29 November and held an open-air rally to protest arrests by the Palestinian Authority following a public leaflet issued by a group of 20 Palestinian figures.

On 28 November Dr. Abdel Sittar Qassem, Dr. Yasser Faek Abu Safieh, Dr. Abdul Rahim Kittani, Dr. Adel Samara, Ahmed Qatamesh and Dr. 'Ismat Shakhseer were arrested for signing the public statement that criticized the situation facing Palestinians 6 years after the signing of the Oslo Accords and the role of the Palestinian Authority. Dr. Qassem is a lecturer in the Palestine and Arabic Studies Program at Birzeit University. These arrests were followed by more on 29 November including Dr. Afif Sulaiman Al-Judah and Adnan Odeh.

The President of the Birzeit University Student Council stated at the opening of the rally,"It hurts to see our homeland which we have loved overcome with decay and to feel that we are forced to live our lives in darkness. We raise our voice loudly to say that we will not accept such circumstances of decay and injustice. If someone raises his voice to say no to this situation, he is announced as a criminal and mercenary. We ask all those who are loyal to their homeland and people to take their leading role in fighting for our people and protecting human rights in Palestine."

Mr. Abdul Jawad Saleh, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and member of the Birzeit University Board of Trustees also addressed the rally. Saleh was one of the 20 figures who signed the public statement that provoked the arrests. He said, "On behalf of the Palestinian people who fought for a homeland in which people are respected and on behalf of you all ... we will not keep silent in front of this decay and injustice even if the price is hundreds of martyrs and wounded. We say to all those corrupt people: Stop! You are not doing what our people fought for. We fought, and we keep fighting for a homeland, not for thieves and gangs of thieves. Our people were martyred for a homeland in which freedom of opinion is saved. This protest which came from some members of the Legislative Council and others outside needs to be protected and you - the generation of Intifada - are the group qualified to protect it. We do not look for a civil war or to make Palestine like Lebanon, we look for a change and free elections to remove those who are corrupt from PA institutions."