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On 7 March, Omar Kiswani, student and President of the student council at Birzeit University, West Bank, Palestine was arrested and forcefully taken by undercover Israeli occupation forces. As elected student officers at Students’ Union UCL we hereby condemn this blatant attack on Palestinian students’ right to education, freedom of speech and expression.

No student should be subject to such confiscation of fundamental rights and should never feel fearful on their own university campuses.

Sarah Al-Aride, Education Officer
Ayo Olatunji, Black and Minority Ethnic Students’ Officer
Aiysha Qureshi, Welfare and International Officer
Mark Crawford, Postgraduate Students’ Officer
Ilyas Morrison, Activities Officer
Hamza Jamshaid, Democracy, Operations and Community Officer

Read the full statement below by Hanin Abou Salem, PhD Researcher at Cardiff University and newly elected Women’s officer at the Students’ Union.

On Wednesday 7 March 2018 Israeli undercover forces abducted Omar Kiswani, President of the University’s Student Council in Birzeit University. Online video footage “showed six men dressed in civilian clothing pinning Kiswani to the ground, kicking and beating him while some of the attackers used their firearms against students to provide cover for the abduction operation.” Kiswani was attacked in front of the student council building.

Israel’s attack and abduction of Omar Kiswani is a grave violation that defies all international norms, laws, and rights and international humanitarian law.

We condemn the attack and abduction of Omar Kiswani and demand his immediate release! We consider the attack and abduction of Omar Kiswani in Birzeit University Campus an attack on the rights of university students, university campuses and student unions around the world! Palestinian students, like all students around the world, have a right to exercise their right to education in a free and safe environment. The fundamental right to education is enshrined in international law and conventions.

We also condemn Israel’s raid on Birzeit University campus.  Palestinian education institutions, like all educational institutions in the world, also have the right to teach their students in an environment that is free from violence and aggression.

We also condemn Israel’s ongoing policy of targeting Palestinian educational institutions, academic campuses and Palestinian students. We demand the release of all Palestinian students from Israeli prisons! 

We also condemn Israel criminalization of student unions in Palestinian universities. Palestinian students, like all students in the world, have a right to have a student body to represent their interests and a right to participate in student-led elections. Israel has no right to infringe upon the democratic and political rights of Palestinian students.

Finally, we call upon the British Government and the International community to hold Israel accountable for breaching international law by attacking Omar Kiswani in Birzeit University Campus. The British Government and the International Community must make it clear to Israel that targeting Palestinian educational institutions, violating academic campuses and kidnapping Palestinian students and infringing upon their academic freedom needs to stop immediately!

Please sign the petition and share it widely by using #freeomarkiswani