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Cardiff occupation ends, claims victory!

unoccupied student | 26.02.2009 16:09 | University Occupations for Gaza | Anti-militarism | Education | Palestine

I have received the following press release from the Cardiff occupation, which has now ended after three days. They are claiming victory after some of their demands were met.

*Victory for Cardiff Student Occupiers*

For immediate Release
Photos available on request
Contact 07801140192

The occupation of Cardiff University has ended with success as Cardiff
University acceded to the occupiers’ key demand – to divest from the arms
trade. Cardiff University have given students written confirmation that
they have divested from the arms trade and have instructed fund managers not
to reinvest.

The occupation ended at 4pm today with the mass of students walking out
together waving occupation banners and chanting ‘Free, Free, Palestine’. They
then held a ‘Books not Bombs’ rally as they marched around campus declaring
their success.

The victory comes after three days of occupation which has made students
across the campus aware of the £209, 000 worth of shares which, until
yesterday, Cardiff University held in the arms trade. This included BAE
Systems and General Electric who supplied Israel with weapons used in the
recent attacks on Gaza.

The Cardiff Occupation, organised by Cardiff Students Against War, was in
opposition to the University’s investment in the arms trade and to the
atrocities committed in Gaza, where 1.4 million Palestinians are blockaded
in a semi-autonomous apartheid state.

The occupation has been inundated with messages of support including most
notably one from Noam Chomsky:

"I am very pleased to learn about the courageous and honourable actions of
the Cardiff University students. These are particularly significant because
of Britain's role in arms sales generally, and it's contribution to the
savage onslaught on Gaza and on the occupied territories generally, second
only to the decisive role of the United States -- a disgrace for all of us.
I hope you have the greatest success in arousing public opinion and bringing
these crimes to an end."

The action at Cardiff is the twenty-eighth UK student occupation to have
taken place in the last few weeks. This unprecedented wave of student
dissent has seen many university’s capitulating to demands. The Cardiff
activists hope their success will inspire other students to hold occupations
on their own campuses.

Arla Gramper, 22, who took part in the occupation said:

"Our success here at the occupation is a great realisation of what can be
achived by direct action. It’s a starting point upon which we plan to build
larger, wider reaching campaign to engage many more people in the debate and
lobby the university.”


*Notes for Editors:*

1. For further quotes or information please call 07801140192 to speak to
students who took part in the occupation. Photos available on request.

2. For more details visit the Cardiff University occupation blog:

3. Other demands of the Cardiff Occupation included: Cardiff University to
issue a statement of support for Saudi ex-BAE trade unionist Yahya Al Faifi,
who is currently fighting deportation from the UK. Cardiff Students against
War will continue to actively campaign against Yahya Al Faifi’s deportation.

4. Israel’s attacks on Gaza have led to the deaths of over 1400
Palestinians, including over 400 children, and the injuring of over 5500. It
is now believed that humanitarian and war crimes may have taken place
including the indiscriminate targeting of civilians (including the bombing
academic institutions), the obstruction and targeting of emergency medical
staff and the use of white phosphorus as a weapon.
See the Disasters Emergency Committee website;

5. The UK arms industry exports billions of pounds worth of weapons every
year, many of these to regimes with poor human rights records, to areas of
conflict or to countries with huge development needs. The arms trade fuels
war and undermines development, including education infrastructure.

6. The occupation was organised by the Disarm Cardiff campaign - an ongoing
campaign run by Cardiff Students Against War.


First announcement (24/02/09):
Update (24/02/09):
South Wales Anarchists report on occupation (25/02/09):

unoccupied student
- e-mail:
- Homepage:


Film and photos of the end of the Cardiff occupation

27.02.2009 17:27

Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru AM, visits the occupation
Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru AM, visits the occupation

Exiting Shandon Lecture Theatre - our home over the previous three days...
Exiting Shandon Lecture Theatre - our home over the previous three days...

Emerging into sunlight
Emerging into sunlight

Procession from the main building
Procession from the main building

Rally outside union greeted with applause from other students
Rally outside union greeted with applause from other students

Books not Bombs
Books not Bombs

we won!
we won!

A short film on the occupation:

cardiff students against war
mail e-mail:
- Homepage:

Cardiff Occupation – some thoughts

27.02.2009 20:23

The student occupiers of Cardiff University have much to feel proud of. For the first time in twenty years the university had to face the power of collective student action.

The Uni’s decision making structures are wholly obtuse – most students have no idea of how to get their Vice Chancellor to even hear their views – let alone affect change based on them.

30 students in the Shandon Lecture Theatre discovered a way though – direct action. Within the first hour of the occupation a pro-VC had already come to begin negotiations with the students, later she engaged in a 45 minute facilitated conversation with all the students in the room and three days after that Cardiff Uni divested from the arms trade, put the DEC banner on the website and have promised to send old PCs, books etc to Gaza – let’s face it as anyone who has ever lobbied the Uni knows petitions and meetings would not have won us that.

But the effectiveness of the occupation was not the only element students should feel proud of – the space they created was also an achievement – hung with brightly coloured banners, filled with cushions and sleeping bags, laughter and music – the Shandon Lecture Theatre was transformed. As one lecturer spluttered upon entering the theatre “Good, God”! An understandable exclamation – gone was the chemistry lecture theatre and in its place was a facilitator of debate, a weaver of resistance and a symbol of hope.

Shandon brought many different kinds of student together for a few wonderful / very fun days.

Yet for all my positive observations of the occupation – I have some negative thoughts to add too. In particular I felt the occupation was marred by the dominant presence of a few non-student members. They were, as far as I could tell SWP organisers and as non-students had no right to be dominating occupation meetings in the way that they did.

Lots of Cardiff folk gave the occupation the practical support it needed to function (Cardiff University Staff, muslim groups, South Wales Anarchists and many other individuals who wanted to show solidarity) but only the SWP felt the need to control the direction of the occupation.

Now student SWP members were certainly welcome in an occupation which was enriched by having people with different political ideas but older, non-student men dominating a student occupation is clearly wrong. I understand Cardiff was not the only occupation to be dominated by a controlling influence of non-student SWP members – something the student movement should reflect on.

It is my hope that the occupation has demonstrated the power of collective student action, we should certainly work with other activists to achieve our aims, but must not let them control our movement.



Hide the following 6 comments

SWP paid employees

28.02.2009 13:28

In the photos I can see two paid employees of the Socialist Workers Party (fists raised in pic one) both are quite a bit older than the students and certainly both graduated some time ago.

It is a shame that these old Leninists have been able to divert the energy and anger of autonomous student action away from taking direct action. No doubt they have recruited one or two of Cardiff Students Against War and considered the continuing occupation a threat to their keeping new recruits faithful to the party machine.

In future I hope Cardiff STUDENTS Against War will be bold enough to ask such 'professional revolutionaries' to keep out.



28.02.2009 15:19

Yep, couldn't agree more. If you look at successful social movements around the world one of the first things they do is kick out collaborators like the SWP. These people have repeatedly run organisations and groups in this country into the ground, and have been trying to do the same with the occupations, but we keep having to put up with them, often under the liberal conceits of 'inclusivity' and 'democracy'. There is nothing inclusive or democratic about allowing these people to hijack our movements for their own agendas.

Latest news for all you trot-watchers, they are now trying to take over the NGO/union coalition 'Put people first' march at the G20 and associated actions taking place around the country now ! If your union/NGO is involved in this coalition (and most are) and you have the opportunity to participate in any of the planned events, dont let them dominate or speak for you to the press or the public!

a student occupier


28.02.2009 17:49

Hi, have written a response to criticism (see comments):

But I should also mention that someone on here seems to think that I'm an SWP member, this is factually incorrect.

Adam J

Additional Comment.

28.02.2009 18:14

'No doubt they have recruited one or two of Cardiff Students Against War and considered the continuing occupation a threat to their keeping new recruits faithful to the party machine.'

Sorry another point: I have already been wrongly identified as an SWP member, then I notice it is also claimed that I am a paid employee of the SWP?!?!?! I don't have a bloody party machine to recruit people to. And for the record, my most recent employer has been Cardiff University where I have worked for over 2 years!

And for the record, anonymous critic, I suspect have done thousands times more than you to build solidarity with the Palestinian people.

As I note on the link, I personally did a helluva lot of work in using our considerable anti-war network to mobilise support for what the students were doing. I'm sorry if that causes offence to you.

As to dominating, I also contacted students from the anarchist network about the occupation (and I think both of them were great and were a real asset) and suggested that they give a report back on their activities with the ISM in Hebron , I also contacted someone from No Borders Wales in advance of the occupation about what was gonna be going down. I have spent the last week trying to make every single progressive person I know aware of the occupation and to support it.

I think that you will find that the vote to end the occupation was pretty much unaminous - your silly comments about 'continuing occupation being a threat' is silly, everyone wanted to see the action be effective and a success - both those who voted to end the occupation on a sober assement of the balance of forces & what had been achieved (with a view of continuing the battle) and the small minority who wanted to stay another night who were also motivated by the highest motives.

. I understand why some people might not have wanted to give it up, and totally respect their opinion and commitment (I suspect that at one time, when I was new to activism I would have felt exactly the same), but people should seriously discuss tactics not make sniping attacks.

Adam J

Sectarian bullshit

28.02.2009 18:53

Hey 'Trotwatch' you described the SWP as diverting people from direct action, actually it was the SWP member who you are criticising who as a guest speaker at an anti-arms trade meeting (he was invited as a former member of the Swansea Uni campaign to divest from the arms trade) was the one who kicked off a discussion of the tactic of an occupation (a strange thing to do if he was opposed to militant action) and also another SWP PhD student who at a meeting of 1000 people in the Student Union talked about occupations that had been happening at other campuses, indeed SWP members played a key role at the very first university occupation at SOAS.

Don't let facts get in the way of sectarian bullshit, but I suspect that you weren't actually involved in the occupation were you? Your just obsessed with the SWP.


To sum up

28.02.2009 19:05

Look I can't put it any better than to borrow the words of the great Trevor Bark from another context:

'You lot should really stop picking on me, you have far far more problems of your own which can only be sorted out when you start some serious self appraisal and reflection. Then you can start some grown up politics rather than irrelevances. By that I mean relating to the real political world, rather than avoiding it. You carry on in your own little dream worlds...

That you cannot see that you're politically fucked is perhaps the sadest one. I mean, I do not even have to point this out, you lot are doing it so very well on your own.'

Adam J