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Europe's largest university, Sapienza University of Rome, denied space for the presentation of Amnesty's report on Israeli apartheid

As part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2022, Sapienza University of Rome's Faculty of Humanities and Philosophy was set to host an event to present Amnesty International's report on Israeli apartheid. Hours before the event, authorisation for the event space was withdrawn.

Translated by BDS Movement

On March 22, the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy [of Sapienza University of Rome] was to host the presentation of Amnesty International’s report, published on February 1, on the crime of apartheid committed by Israel against the Palestinian population. A few hours before the event, however, the concession of the space, which had been authorized seven days earlier, was withdrawn.

On March 28, the president of Amnesty International Italia, Emanuele Russo, wrote to Prof. Antonella Polimeni, rector of Sapienza University of Rome, complaining that such a decision had been taken in a setting that should value freedom of information and research.

The following day, the rector replied declaring that the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy was forced to cancel the initiative because the event organizers had not allowed for the possibility of another panelist with an opposing viewpoint.

Amnesty International Italia confirms its reconstruction of the facts: The organization had been called not to participate in a political debate but to present a report and in any case, in the course of the discussion planned following the event, those present could have publicly expressed their positions.

Amnesty International regularly participates in public initiatives or communications activities in which it is called on to present its reports on human rights violations and to dialogue with those who have different opinions, including representatives of governments or their spokespersons and supporters. However,
Amnesty International does not accept that event hosts can impose the presence of other panelists as a last minute condition on the event and, if not accepted, cancel it.

Moreover, as is the organization’s practice, the report in question was sent for comment to the Israeli authorities well before publication. They preferred instead to initiate an action to discredit the report 24 hours before its launch, an action which is still ongoing.


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