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Year 2009 No. 17, March 8, 2009 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

University of Nottingham Occupation in Solidarity with Gaza

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

University of Nottingham Occupation in Solidarity with Gaza

Songs for Gaza

DPRK Troops Reported to be on War Alert

Cancel the Aggressive US War Exercises! US Troops Must Be Withdrawn!

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University of Nottingham Occupation in Solidarity with Gaza

Article received by WDIE from student who has been involved in the Nottingham University occupation in defence of the people of Gaza. Currently, facing a disciplinary hearing at the university.

Over 30 British universities have gone into occupation in solidarity with the victims of the January atrocities in Gaza. Universities, like many other public institutions, are becoming more and more business orientated, and one of the world’s most profitable industries, the global arms trade, hasn’t missed out on cashing-in. University of Nottingham have strong links with BAE Systems, and one of the main demands of the occupation was divestment from this multinational corporation. The occupation was open – we held talks, discussion groups and film nights. Activists from universities up and down the country came and shared their experiences; this truly is a national movement.

After just six days of occupying a lecture theatre, coupled with daily television, radio and print coverage, University of Nottingham management took it upon themselves to drag each peaceful protester out of the building, disregarding their demands as protesters, and human rights as British citizens. We sat cross-legged on the floor along the back wall and linked arms. One by one, they dragged us out using what I assume were supposed to be stress positions. Tossed outside onto the snow with no belongings, we waited for hours while the police ignored our accusations of assault. BBC and ITV camera crews were prevented from entering campus.

Video footage of private security officers storming the building and forcefully removing us has been confiscated, and most likely destroyed. All reports of theft and perverting the course of justice have been publicly dismissed the police. How ironic that our peacefully liberated space quickly proved the illegitimacy of the same elites which orchestrated its swift and brutal demise. 

The university refused to give back any of the belongings left inside the lecture theatre without taking down our names and student ID numbers. We soon received letters informing us that disciplinary action was taking place. Nonetheless, we organised a rally, with speakers, and threw fund- and awareness-raising events entitled "Books not bombs".

We then travelled to Manchester University, who have now been in occupation for over a month. They held a protest march which went through the main university building, through admin offices and then to the Vice Chancellor office where chants condemning his anti-democratic practices and compliance with arms companies went on for over an hour. Then we marched through the main road, blocking traffic. My friend was attacked by a security guard for videoing another protester being stopped and searched by police under the "terrorism" acts.

In the evening, the Vice Chancellor held a dinner party in the Manchester University grounds, and we blocked every exit so the guests couldn't leave. We had a list of the board of governors, and insisted that each driver shows us ID to prove they are not on the board of governors. If they were not on the list, they were permitted to leave; if they were on the list, they were forced to stay and negotiate. Eventually, riot vans with police dogs began surrounding us. Exhausted, but not defeated, we abandoned the grounds under threat of arrest and possible mauling by police dogs.

The national struggle for justice continues, and these experiences have created a network between student activists up and down the country that will only strengthen as injustice continues. Someone once told me, "Action, analysis, action – while avoiding dogma, and keeping our minds open and fresh to new ideas and ways of understanding and changing the world." If the soul of ’68 hasn’t revitalised the student movement, then I hope the new soul of 2009 will be remembered as the start of something better.

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Songs for Gaza

Fundraising Event for Palestine Overwhelmed by Support – Lewisham Stop the War Coalition

"Songs for Gaza" was a fundraising event for Medical Aid for Palestinians which was held at Lewisham Town Hall in Catford on February 18.

There was so much support for the people of Palestine that much of the potential audience would have had to be turned away on health and safety grounds.

But, thanks to the support of Lewisham's directly elected Mayor, Sir Steve Bullock, who also introduced the event, the town hall staff pitched in to make sure that the proceedings could be moved from the foyer to the main Council Chamber before the main performances. A moving and informative video of an interview with a Palestinian woman in Nablus working for Oxfam was shown while this was being organised. She spoke of life in Nablus and the pride of the Palestinian people, as well as of the brutality and callousness of the Israeli Occupying Forces, vividly bringing to life the situation in the West Bank.

As well as the lively musical acts, which were greatly enjoyed by the audience, local members also put on a moving performance of Caryl Churchill's ten-minute play "Seven Jewish Children" with less than a day's preparation.

In the light of the situation in Gaza, about forty local people had been involved in an organising meeting on January 20, 2009.  One of the suggestions that came out of it was to try to contact the Palestinian musicians and organise a musical event.  To go from that suggestion to putting on such a successful event by February 18 was a fine example of local teamwork and co-operation in practice.

A total of £1,175.34 was raised from ticket sales, raffle and bucket collection.  Funds and donations were also raised through stalls and refreshments.

The main musical acts were: The Camden Band from Abu Dis, Palestine (so-called from the fact that Abu Dis is twinned with the London borough of Camden); and Velvet Fist, socialist women's choir. Some videos are now available. See http://www.lewishamstopwar.org.uk/songsforgazavideos.htm For the Velvet Fist website, click http://listen.to/velvetfist

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DPRK Troops Reported to be on War Alert

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has reportedly ordered its military to be combat ready, ahead of joint US-south Korean manoeuvres that the DPRK has described as a prelude to war.

At DPRK-US general-level talks held in Panmunjom on March 2 and 6 at the proposal of the Korean People's Army side.

The head of the delegation of the KPA side denounced the aggressive and dangerous nature of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military war exercises, large-scale DPRK-targeted sabre rattling, to be staged by the US forces together with the south Korean regime from March 9 to 20, citing the arms build-up and military exercises perpetrated by the US forces side recently. Major General Kwak Chol Hui clarified the principled stand of the KPA on these war manoeuvres.

He declared that the projected joint military exercises will pose an increasing danger as they are timed to coincide with a spate of belligerent remarks from the US and the south Korean reactionary forces as regards the projected launch of a satellite by the DPRK. He strongly urged the US forces delegation to immediately cancel the plan for the exercises for a war of aggression.

The US forces delegation, led by US Air Force Major General Johnny Weida, claimed that the exercises were "annual ones" aimed at "defence". But he said that the US forces side would seriously examine the DPRK's request for the immediate suspension of the exercises and give an answer to it on March 6.

However, at the talks on March 6, too, the US forces side justified the exercises and charged that the DPRK's preparations for the satellite launch for peaceful purposes and the action taken by it to disallow south Korean airliners flying in the air above the East Sea of Korea pose threats.

The head of the delegation of the KPA side made it clear that the satellite launch is an independent right pertaining to a sovereign state under international law, adding that it was an entirely just measure for self-defence for protecting the security of the DPRK for it to have taken that action at a time when the US is putting military pressure upon it and posing threats to it after amassing aggressive forces in the East Sea of Korea.

He strongly warned the US forces side that as long as it does not cancel the DPRK-targeted war exercises, the KPA will take strong countermeasures to cope with the policy taken by the new US administration, judging that the US hostile policy to bring down the DPRK by force of arms remains unchanged and in that case the US forces side will be held fully accountable for all the ensuing consequences.

(sources: AFP, KCNA)

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Cancel the Aggressive US War Exercises! US Troops Must Be Withdrawn!

The Co-ordinating Committee of Friends of Korea (Britain) on March 4, 2009, issued the following statement:

We protest very strongly about the decision of the US and south Korean authorities to stage the "Foal Eagle" and "Key Resolve" exercises in south Korea from March 3 to March 20.

These exercises are being held at a time when tension on the Korean peninsula has increased owing to the anti-reunification moves of the Lee Myung Bak puppet clique. Also, they are being held at a time when the US imperialists and some others have become hysterical about the prospective satellite launch of the DPRK and have gone so far as to talk about "pre-emptive strikes". We believe that it is very dangerous and irresponsible to hold such exercises at this time as they could easily turn into a real war.

These exercises are aimed at intimidating the DPRK to stop it fully exercising its sovereign rights, as well as to stifle its socialist system by force of arms.

It is the inviolable sovereign right of the DPRK to conduct space research and to launch satellites for this purpose. No one should interfere in this. Moreover the development of space technology by the DPRK, which has been subjected to more than 50 years of sanctions and blockades by the US and Western powers, is a great achievement.

We applaud this achievement which is the proud fruit of the socialist independent national economy and self-reliance.

We demand that the "Foal Eagle" and "Key Resolve" exercises be cancelled forthwith and that the US troops are withdrawn from south Korea.

We express our full solidarity with the DPRK at this time.

Co-ordinating Committee of Friends of Korea, London

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