The Palestinian security services summoned and arrested nearly 20 former and current students from Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah, who belong to the Islamic Bloc, after the Bloc’s victory in Student Council Elections on 22 April 2015. According to monitoring and documentation from PHROC organizations, such arrests and summons came in the backdrop of the Islamic Bloc’s victory over the Student Youth Movement (the Martyr Yasser Arafat Bloc). The detainees were taken for investigation and questioned on the Islamic Bloc’s activities at the university, the reasons for its victory in the elections, evaluating the electoral process, and the reasons for the loss of the Student Youth Movement. PHROC organizations documented cases of two students who suffered from acts of ill-treatment, which may amount to torture, during their interrogation and detention. These acts included: being put into “Al-Shabeh” position, where individuals stand with their hands raised and legs spread for long hours; being beaten on their legs; and strangling.
Since 26 April 2015, the Preventive Security Services have summoned by phone and through other means a number of current and former students from Bir Zeit University to the security headquarters. This included the representative of the Islamic Bloc, Jihad Imad Il Dein, taken without an arrest warrant from the Office of the Public Prosecutor, as legally required. During the subsequent days, a number of students were released while other students where subjected to repeated summons. Two students and a former coordinator are still in custody.
The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council strongly condemns the summons and detention by the Preventive Security Service against students from the Islamic Bloc at Bir Zeit University for their student activities, and:
- Affirms that these acts are in violation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to participate in student political movements, which are constitutionally guaranteed for Palestinians and are in accordance with international human rights standards.
- Demands that the Palestinian Authority take measures to protect student activities in Palestinian universities, including freedom of political life, formation of peaceful groups, and participation in student elections.
- Calls for an investigation into violations documented by PHROC organizations committed by the security services, including the illegal detention and torture and ill-treatment of students, and that those involved in the commission of these acts will be held accountable and brought before the competent judicial authority.
- Demands that Palestinian security forces respect the constitutional and legal guarantees related to the detention of citizens in order to preserve their human dignity.
- Confirms obligations made by the State of Palestine with the ratification of international covenants, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture, the need to respect these conventions and enforce them within their legal mandate.