International Day of Action for Gaza Students a World-Wide Success
On Thursday November 19, 1998, activities around the world marked the International Day of Action for Academic Freedom for Gaza Students. Thousands of signatures were collected around the world in support of the right of Gaza students to study in the West Bank and demonstration were also held in several major cities.
In Palestine, students and staff of Birzeit University were outraged when two Israeli Military jeeps drove up to the gates of the campus and prevented a demonstration from taking place. Students had been planning to catch buses to Ramallah and demonstrate outside the Palestine Ministry of Civil Affairs - the Palestinian ministry responsible for advocating for the right of Gaza students to study in the West Bank. Nevertheless, the demonstration went ahead on campus.
Also on Birzeit University, a conference took place which discussed the issues facing Gaza students and the next steps in the campaign. Students decided to meet weekly to plan out activities and follow-up from the International Day of Action.
Birzeit students were extremely pleased to hear of other successful actions around the world. In the United States, students from Georgetown University held a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy and delivered a petition to the Israeli government with over 500 signatures. At Cornell University, letters were sent to the US President, vice-President and members of Congress which asked for their support in the campaign.
In England, students from Cambridge University organized a stall in the center of town and collected signatures on a petition. Petition drives were also held in France, Italy and Japan where a 1500-signature petition was presented to the Israeli embassy. In New Zealand, a workshop was organized in support of the campaign and to inform students of the situation facing Gaza students. Demonstrations were also organized in Holland and Norway. Birzeit University Gazan Student, Saha Safi, will be travelling to Norway at the end of the month to attend conferences of the Norwegian Student Parliament and the Norwegian Palestine Solidarity Committee.
International Co-ordinator of the Gaza Students Campaign, Christian Henderson, told Birzeit News,"The International Day of Action marks the culmination of several months of successful activities. We have now established a strong network of activists around the world and it is exciting to see students themselves at Birzeit University really leading this campaign for education rights and freedom of movement. I urge anyone who wants to take part in this campaign to contact us at Birzeit University."