Press Release

Concerns about crackdowns on students protests in USA

During the evening of 30 April 2024, the New York City Police Department’s forces have cracked down on the protests and arrested students who were demonstrating against the use of force by the Netanyahu’s Israeli government and to support the Palestinians. The authorities have also laid siege to the students’ encampments that had been organized in the Columbia University for nearly two weeks. A wave of protests in various public and private universities have taken place all over the country including in the universities in Michigan, California, Minesota, and Pittsburg mainly to show their solidarity with the Palestinian civilians, women, children and patients who have either been displaced or killed. The protesting students from leading universities including Yale and Columbia want to put pressure on their universities to stop receiving donations from companies that manufacture and supply the Netanyahu Israeli administration with arms to show their solidarity with the Palestinians since 17 April 2024. The NYPD police have since started dissolving the students’ encampments and made more than 100 arrests of the students. 

The Union for Civil Liberties (UCL) deems that the students’ right to protest is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) based on the following reasons; 

  1. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly offers protection to the peaceful assembly of individuals, particularly the assemblies that aim to urge the states to stop using force against civilians, children, women and sick persons and if it is an exercise of the right to assembly peacefully.
  2. Everyone is entitled to exercising their right to peaceful assembly regardless if they are a citizen or non-citizen of the state in which they live. Such right can be exercised by individuals of various statuses including foreign nationals, migrant workers (registered or not with the state), asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons.
  3. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)’s Article 21 protects a peaceful assembly whether it takes place indoor, in open spaces, or online, or in public or private spaces, or in various spaces concurrently. Such assemblies may happen in various forms including demonstrations, protests, meetings, processions, rallies, sit-ins, candlelight vigils, and flash-mobs and they are entitled to protection under Article 21 whether they are static assemblies such as pickets, or mobile assemblies such as processions or marches.
  4. If the assemblies are peaceful, the mere facts that the organizers or the participants fail to act in compliance with the requirements based on domestic laws concerning public assembly may not deprive the organizers and the participants of their protection under Article 21 including when they engage in a civil disobedience, or a direct-action whereby they shall afford the protection under Article 21 if they act peacefully.

UCL is opposed to the stifling and dissolution of the public assemblies by students in universities in the USA. The universities and concerned authorities at the local, state, or federal levels should stop violating such principles. 

UCL urges the US government and its authorities and concerned universities to allow students, groups of students and other individuals in each state within the USA to be able to enjoy the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression which are a fundamental right as long as the actions are conducted peacefully. 

UCL also urges the USA government to genuinely and strictly ensure its conduct shall lead to peace in the Palestine and to stop supplying arms and ammunition to the Netanyahu’s government and to adopt necessary measures to ensure the Netanyahu’s government refrain from killing and expelling the Palestinian civilians including children, women and sick persons while immediately facilitating access of the Palestinians to humanitarian aid from various international organizations. 

With faith in human dignity, human rights and democracy

Union for Civil Liberties (UCL)  


4 May 2024