Friday, 6 February 2009

Occupation is sublime, students ACT for Palestine

Isn't is inspiring to see the continued wave of occupations and actions around UK campuses in support of Palestine? Bravo! And to have realised so many demands in the process.

Yesterday afternoon, occupying students at Strathclyde University left the McCance building with their heads held high, having secured a series of concessions:

After a 24 hour occupation of Registry; three negotiation sessions with the university authorities and a students' association that opposed the actions, we managed to win a series of promises from the University administration:

- The Eden Springs contract has been CANCELLED
- Scholarships will be provided for 1-3 (and potentially more) Palestinian students
- The DEC appeal will be publicised on campus and on the University homepage
- The University will re-establish its link with the University of Gaza
- The University denies that it has any links with BAE systems beyond the company funding one student to the sum of £5000 in the engineering department. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, and we shall investigate this further.

Thank you to everyone for your support in the campaign and the solidarity you expressed. End the occupation - free Palestine!

From King's College to Sussex, from Nottingham to Manchester, from the LSE to Dundee, students have been prepared to risk the censure of university authorities in pursuing their principled demands on behalf of the Palestinian people. It's so very heartening to see young people act in such an organised, energised and compassionate way.

The actual realisation of student demands - such as cancellation of Eden Springs water - gives tremendous encouragement to other student activists and the wider movement. It takes matters beyond conventional protest by yielding immediate, practical results. And while major work remains in pushing universities to relinquish their tie-ins with arms companies and the industry of death, those departments now know that they have been named, shamed and identified as ongoing targets.

The occupations are also helping to rejuvenate the call for a comprehensive boycott of Israeli academia. In support of this, the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) will:

- Continue to put pressure on the EU and the UK government for the exclusion of Israel from the European Research Area.

- Develop a policy which encourages individual academics to break their professional links with Israel by such actions as:

1 - Refusing research collaborations with Israeli institutions or to referee papers or grant applications issuing from such institutions

2 - Refusing to attend academic conferences in Israel

3 - Supporting Israeli academic colleagues working with Palestinian colleagues in their demand for self-determination and academic freedom

- Work within our trades unions and professional organisations in support of such actions

- Explore forms of support to Palestinian academic colleagues

BRICUP are also organising a major protest against the forthcoming "Israel Day of Science" at the Science Museum in London. The event, run by the Zionist Federation, will supposedly showcase the achievements of seven Israeli universities, all deeply involved in the military policies and procurements used to such devastating effect against the people of Gaza. Please read the BRICUP letter to Lord Waldegrave on the matter and register your opposition.

Alongside the multiple global protests and critical reaction over the BBC's DEC Appeal decision, the campus occupations and academic boycott campaign have helped up the ante in forcing universities, media and other powerful institutions to recognise their complicit part in Palestinian suffering. One really senses now the kind of organic campaigning that worked so imaginatively across the world to bring down South African apartheid.


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