Silent protest calls attention to lack of educational access in Gaza Strip

Students Marwane Moussaif and Dana Abu-Nasrah silently protested in Kogan Plaza on Tuesday night, advocating for the right to higher education for students on the Gaza Strip. Julie Bessler | Hatchet Photographer
Marwane Moussaif, left, silently protested in Kogan Plaza on Tuesday night, advocating for the right to education for children living in the Gaza Strip. Julie Bessler | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Sarah Miller

About a dozen blindfolded students, some with their mouths covered in yellow duct tape, stood silently around the Kogan Plaza clock tower for more than two hours on Tuesday night.

The Students for Justice in Palestine teamed up with GW’s Amnesty International Chapter for the first time in recent history to protest the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. The groups focused on how the blockade has cut off education to many Palestinians in that region.

The demonstrators held signs plastered dismal education rates for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. For example, 40,000 children living in the Gaza Strip can’t cross into the West Bank to get to United Nations schools.

One sign read: Two-thirds of four- and five-year-olds are not enrolled in pre-school.

“This brings to light the reality of the situation in the Gaza Strip. Education is a basic human right,” Riad Alarian, president of the Students for Justice in Palestine, said during the protest.

The Israeli economic blockade of the Gaza Stip prevents importing books and technology, which compounds the already large lack of school facilities in the area, according to Amnesty International’s website.

Jan Janoušek, executive co-director of GW’s Amnesty International chapter, said that his organization participated because the Gaza Strip needs a human rights intervention, not because they are backing the partisan push for a free and independent state of Palestine.

“Students our age are not being allowed to exit the Gaza Strip. We are here raising awareness on something we take for granted every day, which is our education. Other people our age do not have access to education. ” Janoušek said.

Other students in the groups handed out palm cards and asked students to sign a petition demanding that the Israeli government stop limiting access to education for Palestinian students in the Gaza Strip.

Sophomore Adriana Segal, the director of communications for Amnesty International, said the blindfolds protesters were wearing symbolize the “denial of access to education and that students cannot see an academic future.”

This post was updated on Oct. 3, 2013 to reflect the following:
Correction appended
In a caption, The Hatchet incorrectly identified Marwane Moussaif as a GW student. We regret this error.

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