This follows occupations by SOAS, LSE, and Essex in the past week.
Get down to Arts LR4 to express your support!
Tuesday 20th January, 2009
PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS STATEMENT
This is intended to be a peaceful non-violent occupation of Arts LR4 by students from the University of Birmingham, not representing any student society or group, acting in solidarity with the population of Gaza and Palestinian students. We do not intend to cause any damage to university property and have made every effort to minimise disruption to teaching and other activities caused by this occupation.
We are acting in solidarity with the people of Gaza and condemn Israel’s military operation in Gaza, which we consider to be ongoing as long as the Israeli army remain in Gaza. This operation has led to the deaths of over 1200 Palestinians, including over 400 children, and the injuring of over 5000, the majority of which are innocent civilians. Many more bodies may also lie under the ruins. We do not believe that Israel’s military offensive is ’proportionate’ or that it has honoured its obligations under international law to protect civilians. Further, we believe that humanitarian and war crimes may have taken place, including the indiscriminate targetting and killing of civilians, the use of white phosphorous as a weapon, and the obstruction and targetting of emergency medical staff, and wish to see these reports independently investigated and any parties found guilty prosecuted to the fullest extent permitted under international law. We also condemn the destruction of a significant proportion of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, including hundreds of homes, schools, universities, mosques, hospitals, and UN installations, including warehouses containing aid and medical supplies.
We condemn the firing of thousands of rockets into southern Israel over the past 8 years by Hamas’ military wing and other armed factions within Gaza, which has terrorised the civilian population and killed 3 civilians during the Israeli army’s present operation. However, this does not mean that we do not recognise the right of the Palestinian people to resist the illegal occupation of their homeland, as described in the Geneva conventions relating to the rights of an occupied people. We are acting in solidarity with Palestinian students whose right to education is being denied by the current conflict (both directly and as a consequence of)
a) the killing and injuring of hundreds of students, teachers, and other workers associated with education in Gaza during Israel’s military operation.
b) the deliberate targetting and destruction of university buildings, the destruction of schools, the ministry of education, and other educational infrastructure in Gaza as part of Israel’s military operation.
c) the conditions of the illegal occupation enforced by the Israeli military and supported by the political and military leaders of the state of Israel within the illegally occupied Palestinian territories, which includes deliberate strategies to restrict the movement of students and generally disrupt education within the territories.
We believe recent events are part of an ongoing cycle of oppression and violence which is caused principally by the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories by the state of Israel. We believe very strongly that to achieve a meaningful and lasting peace and justice for the populations of both Palestine and Israel that the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories must end. We believe that this should happen immediately.
We are acting in solidarity with students at the London School of Economics, the School of Oriental and African Studies, Essex University, and other university students around the world, who have or are currently occupying areas within their own universities for similar reasons and who called on students in other universities to do the same.
We call on students in other universities, both in the UK and around the world, to occupy in solidarity with those of us who have done so already.
We call on all students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Birmingham to join and provide support to the occupation.
We would also like to make several demands of the Vice-Chancellor and Senate of the University of Birmingham, the achievement of which is part of the aims of this occupation. These demands, to which we expect a formal response, are as follows:
1) That the university corporate issue a statement (i) condemning the massive breach of the human rights and the indiscriminate killing and injuring of the people of Gaza during the ongoing military operation
(ii) condemning the deliberate destruction of educational infrastructure in Gaza (iii) condemning the denial of the right to education for Palestinians and Israelis (iv) calling for an end to the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories (v) calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in protest at the contempt demonstrated by Israel for international law and human rights during the current military offensive (vi) calling on the British government to provide urgent aid and medical assistance to the people of Gaza.
2) That the university actively support the ’Birmingham-Ramallah Twinning Initiative’, part of which involves twinning the university with a university in Ramallah.
3) That the university divest from the Barclays Global Investment index, a pooled fund with a high level of investment in arms companies, specifically BAE Systems, which supply weapons to the Israeli military.
4) That the university implicitly recognise the separate identity of Palestinian students who come to Birmingham in all the services and facilities available to them (at the moment Palestinian students are not administratively separate from Israeli students).
5) That the university donate old computer equipment and textbooks to universities in Palestine, specifically those that were partially destroyed in Gaza during the current Israeli military operation.
6) That the university provide material support to Palestinian students who wish to study at Birmigham, both by waiving the fees of students already here now and by increasing the numbers of scholarships and studentships available to those who may wish to study here in the future.
7) That the university withdraw all goods produced illegally by Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories from university retail and catering outlets.
8) That the university close any accounts with Lloyds TSB and withold a renewal of their lease on campus in protest at their instructing the Islamic Bank of Britain, in their capacity as a clearing bank, to terminate the account of Interpal, a charity which raises funds to aid the population of the occupied Palestinian territories.
9) That the university should accomodate and fund a public lecture on these issues open and free to all members of the university and the public.
Further information and updates on the occupation can be found at:
Birmingham Occupation in Solidarity with the population of Gaza and Palestinian students.
Solidarity all the way!
The Occupied Lecture Theatre (LR4) is in the Arts Faculty which is building R16 on the map. You'll see some revolving doors at the main entrance to the Arts building, go up one flight of stairs and the occupied lecture theatre is straight in front of you right next to the lift doors.
Solidarity to the people of Gaza and Palestinian Students!
Palestine will be free!