Haniyeh urged to allow students out of Gaza

12:00 Aug 24 2011 Gaza City

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian human rights official is urging the leadership in Gaza to reverse a decision blocking eight students from traveling to the United States for university.

Rawyeh Ash-Shawwa, member of the legislative council and head of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, called on Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh to personally reverse the decision.

She called the decision an explicit violation of human rights.

Ash-Shawwa said many families in Gaza want their children to study internationally. She found it dumbfounding that Palestinians have battled Israel for permission to leave Gaza but remain stuck due to Hamas.

The eight students should be give priority to leave, she said.

The education minister in Gaza has cited “social and cultural reasons” for the decision, according to the students and a recent statement by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

The 16-year-old students had been granted Amideast scholarships to study in the US. They will lose their scholarships if the decision is not reversed. The students have asked not to be named.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged Hamas to overturn the decision.

“Hamas should be encouraging young people to seek educational opportunities, not arbitrarily blocking them from traveling abroad to study,” said Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch's deputy Mideast director.
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