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International Human Rights Day: EI condemns attacks on Somali graduation ceremony

published 10 December 2009 updated 10 December 2009

As the world marks 10 December, International Human Rights Day, Education International once again asserts that the right to education is a fundamental and inalienable right of every person, and denounces last week’s bombing of a graduation ceremony in Somalia.

On 3 December, a suicide bomber attacked a graduation ceremony in Mogadishu, killing at least 22 people including medical students, doctors and the Somali government ministers for education, higher education and health.

Several hundred people had gathered to witness medical, engineering and computer science graduates from Benadir University receive their diplomas when the blast ripped through the hall.

Somali Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke described the attack as "beneath contempt.” He said: “The loss of our ministers is disastrous, but it is an outrage to target the graduation of medical students and kill those whose only aim in life was to help those most in need in our stricken country.”

EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen echoed the prime minister’s outrage, and unconditionally condemned such actions. “Attacks against students, teachers and civilians who are not taking part in a conflict are war crimes,” he said. “Impunity for such crimes must be brought to an end.”

Van Leeuwen recalled that EI recently issued a Declaration on Schools as Safe Sanctuaries which reaffirms the right to education in safety, and calls on the world community to ensure that education and schools are respected as sanctuaries and zones of peace.

To read the full Declaration and accompanying brochure, click on the link below.