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LSE students occupy university

LSE Students for Gaza | 15.01.2009 22:42 | University Occupations for Gaza | Education | Free Spaces | Palestine | Social Struggles

Over forty pro Palestine students have occupied a lecture theatre at the London School of Economics to demand that the university releases a statement condemning the attack on Gaza and divests from arms companies that supply the Israeli military.

Students entered the Old Theatre and sat down on the stage after the Students' Union passed a motion in support of their demands. A lecture continued as scheduled with the students on the stage.

The group want LSE Director to issue a statement condemning the Israeli violence on Gaza.

SOAS ended their three day occupation last night after all but one of their demands were met. Students at other campuses are planning similar actions.

"LSE is an institution founded on the Fabian values that were the precursor of the human rights agenda of modern politics. LSE must restate those values and condemn state criminality. It is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of humanity," a spokesperson said.

The group are also demanding that LSE divests from arms firm BAE Systems, an arms company who supply the Israeli military.

"The fact that LSE invests in BAE Systems means that it is directly profiting from the collective punishment of the Gazan people. Our University will remain tainted for as long as it is funded by unlawful military aggression. The LSE must divest from BAE and other arms companies immediately.

The LSE also invests in arms companies Boeing, Rolls Royce and BHP Billiton, a firm the School says supplies nuclear material for warheads.

They have also issued several demands related to providing material support for Palestinian students including providing 5 fully paid scholarships for Palestinian students, books and computers for Palestinian universities and facilitation for fund raisingactivities.

The LSE has said that it will not remove the occupiers and have agreed to let students enter and leave the theatre.

Over 250 students and academics wrote to Director Howard Davies at the beginning of the year to demand a statement and other demands similar to those being demanded by the occupation. Davies agreed to waiver application fees for students affected by the crisis but refused to issue a condemnatory statement, pledge further material assistance or support divestment from arms firms.

Davies claimed that the School does not take positions on "political issues". This is in stark contrast to an overtly political statement issued by the Davies in May 2007 condemning a UCU (University and College Union) resolution concerning the Israeli Occupation, and previous condemnations by LSE of South African Apartheid and the Tiananmen Square massacre in the 1980's.


1) Statement
The LSE should release a statement condemning the Israeli attack on Gaza and demanding a ceasefire. LSE is an institution founded on the Fabian values that were the precursor of the human rights agenda of modern politics. LSE must restate those values and condemn state criminality. It is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of humanity. A statement condemning Israeli violence is fully in keeping with the founding principles of our university.

2) Divestment
The LSE currently holds investments in BAE Systems, a firm that the Campaign Against the Arms Trade ( states provides weapons and ammunition for the Israeli military. This means that our university is being directly funded by the Israeli war on Gaza. The LSE must divest from BAE immediately.

3) 5 fully paid scholarships for Palestinian students.
At a University as diverse and international as LSE, Palestinian students are grossly underepresented in the student body when compared to other groups.

4) Fundraising day.
The LSE administration should facilitate a ‘fundraising day’ where buckets will be in every lecture and seminar to collect money for the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians

5) Books and Computers.
The LSE has a £26 million surplus and is lucky enough to be able to regularly invest in new equipment. Any computers or books due to be got rid of at the end of Lent and Summer terms should be donated to the University and to schools that have been bombed in Gaza.

6) Amnesty
LSE has a proud history of student activism. Students united to campaign against apartheid, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and more recently around divestment from the arms trade. All students have a democratic right to peaceful protest and students should not be prevented from expressing their opinions by fear of reprisals.


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