District Court cancels Haifa University’s decision to expel Arab students
Today, 20 May 2014, the Haifa District Court decided to cancel Haifa University's decision to expel Palestinian Arab students Tarek Yassin and Ahmad Masalha for organizing political activity on campus on the anniversary of the Nakba. The Court ordered the students’ return to the university next Sunday. The decision comes in the wake of Adalah's appeal on behalf of the students that challenged the unjust administrative decision taken by the Dean of Students against them.
In response to the court’s decision, Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher, who represented the students, stated that she is "pleased about the quick decision taken by the Court to return the students to their university." Attorney Zaher added, "It is unfortunate we needed to turn to the courts to convince Haifa University not to harm the students' rights to protest and express their opinion. The university’s decision was arbitrary and extreme."
During the court hearing, which was attended by dozens of activists, Adalah emphasized, "The University's representatives describe the issue in terms such as "deterrence" and "posing a threat to public safety and security". It put the matter as if in the form of a criminal charge, even though the students are in fact practicing their constitutional right to express their opinion." The judge confirmed and stated that: "I do not see a place for comparison between criminal cases and the case before us."
Despite the court’s cancellation of the administrative decision and its order to return the students to the University, the University still insists that the students appear before the Committee, which would then decide upon the violations to attribute to the students' activity. The Committee would then consider the issue and/or the punishment. The students committed that they would not participate in any unlicensed political activities on campus until the hearing with the Ethics Committee in the first week of June.
Arab students from al-Jabha and Abnaa' el-Balad student clubs requested permission from the university to organize a political activity on 12 May 2014 for the anniversary of the Nakba. The university refused the request on the date of the event. Students and others than held a protest against the university’s decision and a moment of silence to commemorate the Nakba. The Dean of Students then decided to expel the students. The University justified its decision of preventing the Nakba commemoration activity because it might "pose a threat to public safety." The university has prohibited Nakba protest on campus for the last three years, since the enactment of the “Nakba Law”.
Case Citation: Motion 29042-05-14, Masalha et al. vs. Haifa University et al. (Haifa District Court)