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Hamas students start hunger strike at Birzeit University

May 24, 2012 5:14 P.M. (Updated: May 26, 2012 1:05 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A group of students protesting political detentions by the Palestinian Authority went on hunger strike Thursday in Birzeit University.

The students, who are Hamas supporters, have been sleeping inside the university since May 5. They fear the Fatah-led PA's security forces will arrest them if they leave campus.

In a statement, the students said they would remain on campus until the issue was resolved with the PA, adding that they would escalate the strike if political detentions did not stop.

Students began sleeping on campus to avoid arrest during the exam period.

Saed Qasrawi, a 26-year-old engineering student, told the Associated Press that he had been enrolled for eight years but had been unable to finish his degree because PA forces kept arresting him. He said he was arrested at the start of final exams five times over five years.

The students are sleeping on mattresses on the floor, using university guards' showers and eating at the canteen, the AP said.

"Staying here was the only way to avoid detention during the exams," said Qasrawi.

In its annual report for 2011, Amnesty International accused the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority and Hamas security forces of arbitrarily detaining each other's supporters.

"Detainees were tortured and otherwise ill-treated, particularly by Preventive Security and the General Intelligence Service in the West Bank, and by Internal Security in Gaza, all of which were able to abuse detainees with impunity," it said.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights recorded 1,000 complaints of arbitrary arrests in the West Bank and more than 700 in Gaza in 2011.

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