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Year 2009 No. 11, February 12, 2009 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

University Occupations in Support of Palestine Grow in Number

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University Occupations in Support of Palestine Grow in Number

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University Occupations in Support of Palestine Grow in Number

By Workers’ Weekly Youth Group

A wave of university occupations has been sweeping across the country, focused on unity with the Palestinian people resisting Israeli aggression and occupation.

            Buildings have been occupied over the past two and a half weeks in 22 universities and colleges so far, demanding: scholarships be provided for Palestinian students; material support for Palestinian universities; universities and colleges officially condemn the Israeli attacks; and divestment from Israel and companies that supply Israel with arms. Most occupations have declared victory on their demands. Workers’ Weekly Youth Group is at one with the students in occupation and their determination to win further success in their actions.

            Students at the University of Manchester, currently occupying the Simon Building, called a second Emergency General Meeting in response to the crisis in Gaza on February 11. The Students Union passed a motion in support of the people of Gaza, which includes a resolve to boycott Israel, in the meeting, attended by over 1,000 students. The University of Manchester Students Union is the biggest in Western Europe, and is also the first western students union to pass a motion includes an out and out boycott of Israel.

            The policy that was passed compared Israel to apartheid South Africa and supported the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. It called for the Union to divest from Israel, boycotting all companies which support or benefit from the Israeli occupation, and to lobby the University to adopt a similar boycott policy towards Israel. The motion also condemned the University for its lack of progress in divesting from arms companies. Following the meeting the union will send a letter to the BBC condemning their refusal to air the Disaster Emergency Committees (DEC) appeal for Gaza, as well as facilitating a day of fundraising with proceeds going to the DEC.

            That Students at Manchester have a long history of showing solidarity with Palestinians, most notably in their affirmation of the “Palestine: Right to an Education” motion passed in 2007. This motion twinned the Union with the An-Najah University in the occupied West Bank, and committed the Union to campaign for the rights of Palestinian students. Similarly, the Students’ Union played an important role in the international solidarity campaign against South African apartheid by divesting the university’s funds from South Africa.

            We are posting the following press release from the occupation at the University of Manchester that has been sent to WWYG. For more information on the occupation, see their frequently updated blog at http://manunioccupation.wordpress.com or contact manuni@actionpalestine.org.

 

The University of Manchester Occupation in Solidarity with Gaza

Over 150 University of Manchester students have occupied the main university administration building in a demand for a stronger and more proactive position from the university on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The students have proposed a set of demands on the university's Vice Chancellor Alan Gilbert, including a boycott of Israeli goods on campus, support for a day of fundraising with proceeds to the DEC fund, and that the university end research into manufacturing arms.

            Students at other universities have taken similar actions over the last three weeks and have been successful in their demands.

            The conflict has killed over 1,300 Palestinians and injured thousands. Tens of thousands of civilians have been left homeless. Head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, John Ging, is now joining international calls for an investigation into the war crimes of the recent action, wherein Israel stands accused of using banned weapons such as white phosphorus and cluster bombs, attacking medical facilities, including the killing of 12 ambulance men in marked vehicles, and killing large numbers of policemen who had no military role.

            Over 500 students attended an emergency general meeting of the students union to discuss a motion on the issue of the crisis in Gaza, whereby the students marched on University administration headquarters, the John Owens Building, to draw up a list of demands.

            The peaceful occupation is planned to continue for as long as it takes to achieve its demands, and promises to welcome high profile speakers during the week.

Demands

1) University of Manchester should issue a formal statement condemning Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip, acknowledging particularly the effects on educational institutions such as the bombing of the Gaza Islamic University and expressing concern about war crimes allegations.

2) Support a day of fundraising across campus with the proceeds going to the DEC Gaza appeal.

3) University to publicise DEC advert in any way possible (including banner on the website) and put pressure on the BBC and sky to show the DEC advert.

4) All furniture & surplus supplies from buildings that are being renovated to be sent to Gaza on the Viva Palestina convoy.

5) Join the BDS movement through stopping sales of Israeli goods on university premises, the University should also stop buying any campus supplies from Israeli companies.

6) That the university divests from all companies directly involved in the manufacture of weaponry. We also demand that the university takes the issue of transparency in their investment seriously.

7) That the university publicly supports its students' right to protest, such as occupations. That in line with this, the university will provide its facilities for a "Students for Palestine" conference, second week of April 09.

8) To send a public message of solidarity to the Islamic University in Gaza, whose campus has been virtually destroyed, and publish it on the university website and distribute it to the university wide e-mail addresses.

9) To give at lease five scholarships for Palestinian students as well as providing at least five scholarships for Israelis who refuse to serve in the IDF.

10) That the university make a module on the history of Palestine available as an optional module for any University of Manchester student.

11) That home fees apply to Palestinians students wanting to study at the University of Manchester.

12) No victimisation for those taking part in the Occupation, and free movement in and out of the occupied spaced.

 

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