Education International
Education International

Union of Palestinian Teachers mourn loss of senior figure

published 26 June 2010 updated 26 June 2010

The International Secretary of the General Union of Palestinian Teachers (GUPTs), Hazem Nasri Qumsieh, has died at the age of 55.

A staunch defender of Palestinian human and trade union rights, Hazem worked in the interest of teachers in Palestine, despite his declining health. The passion with which he served was noted across the region. He showed his steely resolve until the last moments of his long battle with cancer.

Born in 1955 in the city of Beit Sahour, which is inside the Bethlehem Governorate, Hazem worked as a physics teacher for many years. He became very active in the social and political life of his local community and was soon elected General Secretary for the Private Schools Teachers’ Union, as well as International Relations’ Secretary for the Public Schools’ Union.

At the GUPT, under Hazem’s leaderships, the union was successful in raising awareness of the experience of Palestinian teachers at an international level. It was through this experience that he came into close contact with many EI members, notably among the Scandinavian teachers’ unions: AFT, SNES, UNSA and GEW amongst others.

The fruit of these relations lead to financial and technical cooperation and support for the GUPT to enhance the situation of Palestinian teachers and promoting the Palestinian educational system.

Hazem’s love of the natural environment was reflected in his service as chairperson for the Palestine Wildlife Society, a regional environmental organisation. And as an advocate for peace, Hazem taught not only in the classroom, but in society at large, for social justice. Alongside this well documented community work and dedication to serving local teachers, Hazem was also involved in politics and was imprisoned by the Israeli authorities during the 1980s after which he became active in promoting the Palestinian cause, and was subsequently elected as a member of the Revolutionary Council of the Fateh Movement.

EI and its member organisations will always remember Hazem’s genuine concern for the future of Palestine and his tireless pursuit of the goal of a viable, independent Palestine for the good of teachers, pupils and society at large.

EI salutes Hazem Nasri Qumsieh’s work for equality, freedom and justice. May he rest in peace.