Updates on us and other unis

February 11, 2009

A lot has happened since we last updated you on the situations in other universities…

  • Glasgow went under on Monday, Rochester occupation in NY has both started and ended in victory, as has Strathclyde. Others to go under: Edinburgh, Goldsmiths, UEA, Manchester (links on the right-hand side)
  • On a sadder note Sheffield Hallam Uni has taken it upon themselves to suspend one of the SU sabbaticals for taking part in the sit-in. If you want to show solidarity, join the Facebook group
  • Queen Mary’s managed to get their university to both actually divest from an arms company, and tighten up their own “ethical investment policy” – groundbreaking stuff!

If you want to keep up-to-date with situations at other universities, you may want to join the group Support the UK Occupations!

Three representatives from the Warwick sit-in met with university officials this morning, so you will be getting an update from that soon…

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Update on the local/national movements

February 8, 2009

Students are revolting: The spirit of ’68 is reawakening… it’s quite sympathetic, and I personally am glad these occupations are finally getting national attention.

Facebook group for all the occupations

Update on what Warwick have been doing post sit-in: lots! The focus has been on three main sections.

  1. We have been meeting up regularly to discuss what to talk about in the upcoming discussion with the university – what to focus on, what to specify, where we can collaborate etc.
  2. Groups have been breaking off to tackle specific aims e.g. getting aid out to Gaza – this is making some pretty good headway!
  3. We have been conversing with other universities and national media to try and formulate a truly national movement with some pretty hefty political clout. Going to conferences, phone calls, e-mail lists… we’re trying to not lose the momentum that the recent wave of occupations has inspired!

As always, keep your eyes peeled and your ears to the ground…

MPs concerned about arms exports to Israel

February 4, 2009

It is not just students at Warwick that are concerned about the involvement of “British” companies in the recent Gaza conflict. In the past few days, it has been reported that MPs were shocked to discover that UK arms companies are supplying Israel with weapons for use in the occupied territories.

Guardian article: Israeli drones in Gaza may have had British engines, ministers admit

The same has come out in the USA as well: Guardian (blog). Numerous arms companies have been implicated in selling military equipment to Israel:

Confirmed:

Suspected:

  • Qinetiq: Parts for the Joint Strike Fighter, which Israel is a customer for
  • Rolls Royce: Engine parts for F-16 jets
  • Northrop Grumman: Has a close connection with “Israel aircraft industries”
  • GE Aviation: Cannons on F-15 jets and Apache Helicopter propulsion

One of the many reasons, that was noted in the Guardian article, for many being only “suspected” is because accurate information about these companies is very difficult to come by. For more info about exports to Israel, check out the Campaign against the Arms Trade website.

Background info:

In 2002 Israel was found to have broken its written assurance that no UK equipment would be used in the occupied territories, when it was disclosed that Centurion tanks had been converted by the IDF into armoured personnel carriers.

The UK continues to sell arms to Israel despite the UN stating that Israel “violates humanitarian law” and even though the UK’s own “Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria” are supposed to assess the impact on regional peace, security and stability and the human rights record of the recipient.

A call has been made by both the Liberal Democrats and Amnesty International (among other groups) for an arms embargo against Israel. Note, there is currently an embargo against the Palestinian territories. It is also illegal for any UK company to sell weapons to Hamas or related organisations anywhere under anti-terror laws.

Nottingham forcibly evicted, Hallam to be suspended

February 2, 2009

It seems that the noise on the grapevine, that VCs and universities were starting to work together, may not be too far from the truth. Nottingham were forcibly removed from the room, and the staff at Hallam turned out to be lying when they said the protesters would face no repercussions (as they have all been told they are going to be suspended as students).

Nottingham:
This peaceful occupation were given another warning (that the University  won’t enter dialogue whilst the room is occupied, and that they had the chance to be disciplined, can be read here), with the added threat to leave or that the guards would “remove” them. After deciding to non-violently resist, 9 or so uniformed security guards forcibly removed protesters to outside the building. This was most likely illegal (they are not security guards, and do not have the right to forcibly remove unless you are personally in danger afaik). Screams of pain were heard, items of clothing were broken. They since haven’t been let back in to retrieve items such as jackets, and as such as standing out in the snow with no protection from the cold. Media have been cleared off the campus, police are refusing to take statements alleging of assault by the security guards, etc.
Please send messages of solidarity to the group, and e-mails to their VC informing of this potentially illegal activity.
Notts blog

Sheffied Hallam (in their words):
“Having left the room after intimidation and complete lack of negotiation by management, outright hostility to our demands and threat of arrests by police, we left.
Having agreed to leave peacefully (in accordance with our exclusively peaceful protest) we were assured by the Univeristy Management that students taking part in the occupation would face no repercussions. Today we find that many students were told that due to their taking part in the occupation, they are to be suspended from the university; effectively not being able to take part in lectures, examinations and their learning!”
Sheffield Hallam blog

Warwick declares victory!

January 30, 2009

Yesterday, we received word via our Students’ Union that the University was ready to deal. They have put a statement up on their website (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/insite/), and they are prepared to come to the table (with our SU mediating) and discuss where to go from here (with respect to sending aid, ethical investment, etc.)

So many people did not believe that, when we occupied a room in Warwick, that is was going to be successful – I hope you know have been shown that students still care! To top it off, last night the Emergency General Meeting we called had the largest attendance in ten years, and voted in an overwhelming majority (83% for) to both condemn the humanitarian crisis and offer support for those who performed the sit-in. This overwhelming show of support could never have happened a week ago before the sit-in started.

I would like to personally thank, on behalf of all the Warwick Solidarity Sit-in collective, everyone that came and showed support – whether it was in the form of solidarity, of hands to help, of food to keep us going, or help with talking to the university. We feel our action has woken the faith in student activism that had been lying dormant at Warwick, that it informed many people that before knew little about the crisis, and that it sent a message to both the rest of the UK and the rest of the world that there are people out there that do care. We really felt that the students were behind us in our action…

but that was by no means the end. Now we are at the table with the university with student backing, we need to try and win change through the “proper channels”. We also need to harness the joy that so many felt from seeing students take a stand for something, anything. Our time is now.

We have a meeting at 6pm on Monday in MS.B3.03. Come along and discuss where we can go from here. Good luck to all those still occupied, good luck to those that ended, and good luck to those thinking about “going under”. Solidarity!

Update: Plans and Protests

January 29, 2009

The University responded to us last night, but still managed to miss most of the points we were making. We are drafting a response now, but they are making it clear that this is not going to be easy. Tonight will give us a boost, however, if the motion passes at the Emergency General Meeting (EGM). It’s at 6pm TONIGHT in MS.02 (in the Maths and Stats building), please come and bring all your friends because we need this meeting to have enough people!

In other news, Bradford and Nottingham have now both gone under occupation. Here’s a press release from Nottingham:

“A group of students has peacefully occupied Room B63 Law and Social Sciences this evening in solidarity with the people of Gaza. This occupation is the 17th in the U.K since the New Year.

Motivated by the escalating crisis in Gaza, University of Nottingham students is issuing a set of demands to the University management calling for immediate action. We stand in solidarity with students at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the London School of Economics, King’s College London, Birmingham, Essex, Warwick, Sussex, Oxford, Manchester Metropolitan, Cambridge, Leeds, Newcastle, Queen Mary’s, and Bradford Universities; all of whom have occupied parts of their Universities in support of Gaza

We will not lift the occupation until our demands have been met. The demands are currently being finalised and include a statement from the university and the providing of aid and scholarships to Palestinian students in Gaza.

This is a non-violent and inclusive protest. All University of Nottingham students are encouraged to participate. During the occupation we will adhere to the same codes of personal conduct as is expected of us as members of the student community.  Any disruption to our peers’ education is expressly against our wishes and we will respect the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of expression and the right to disagree.  Universities should be a place where freedom of expression, debate and critical discourse is encouraged.

We are asking anyone who empathises with our cause to come down and join the demonstration.

We plan to organise speakers, events, food and music. We are not going to disrupt any lectures.”

Talks tonight

January 28, 2009

Hi ho. We’ve got a group called Anarchists Against The Wall coming to speak at 5pm (they’re not all anarchists, don’t be scared) and John Rose at 6/6:30pm coming in to share his wisdom on a one-state solution. Come along, and TELL PEOPLE TO COME TO THE AGM TOMORROW AT 6PM IN MS.02! NOW!

Sussex declares victory!

January 28, 2009

At half past nine last night, an agreement was reached with the university management, ending negotiations and the occupation. We thank everybody who has contributed towards our success in achieving our demands. A rally will be held at 1pm today in library square.

Exactly one week after the beginning of our occupation, almost to the minute, Sussex occupation announces victory. As we celebrate we reaffirm our absolute commitment to the people of Palestine and their continued struggle.

We are glad that we were able to come to a mutual agreement with the university management that will ensure practical support for the people of Palestine. We have experienced significant pressure from management from the outset, culminating in their withdrawal from negotiations at 9 am this morning after our proposed minor clarifications to the final agreement – intended to ensure full commitment to the support of the Palestinian cause – were rejected. After close consideration, we have decided to accept the management’s assurances that these resolutions will be carried out in the full spirit of our occupation and its causes, and we look forward to working in partnership with university management in their implementation.

We are hugely grateful for all of the support that we have received from the wider university community. The 1293 signatures in support of our demands, as well as the countless inspiring personal messages, e-mails, phone calls and donations that we received over the course of the week showed to us the strength of common feeling over this matter. We also give huge thanks to the university security staff, who have been tremendously considerate and supportive throughout, and we are proud to have them as part of our university.

We are proud to be part of a growing national movement. Students across the country are reasserting their politcal strength, through peaceful and direct action. We are confident that in reclaiming our universities we are reviving the role of educational institutions in effecting
local and international social change.

As this movement has developed a genuine community has been created, of people from disparate groups, both political and social, united by a common cause. This is only the start. We will see this through and continue our campaign for the liberation of the Palestinian people.

In solidarity,
The Sussex Occupation.

See the agreement here: www.sussex.ac.uk/students
Sussex blog

More unis occupied, more unions support…

January 27, 2009

Queen Mary’s is now under occupation (leaving only UCL as a major London uni that’s not been), and the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees has come out in support of what we’re doing (look on our Flickr account for a copy)

BUT almost more importantly, we got enough signatures to call an EMERGENCY GENERAL MEETING for our union, which will be this Thursday at 6pm in MS.02. This will be a Union-led forum to discuss whether or not the Union should support our recent actions. The debate will not be about partisanship in the conflict (the Union will always remain neutral) but about our right to do what we have done, and the humanitarian demands that we have made. You need to be a member of our SU to vote, and we need at least 100 votes to make anything we decide matter. Come along to show people that students care about something! WE NEED YOUR HELP!

THIS THURSDAY

6PM, MS.02

Day 7… almost one week!

January 27, 2009

We’re still here, we’re still going strong! The University is starting to get into correspondence with us, and we collected enough signatures (0.5% of the student population) to be able to call an Emergency General Meeting for the Union. This would be on Thursday or Friday, and would entail a Union-run debate on whether people should support our sit-in, with a vote one way or the other. If the vote is in the affirmative, that would massively open up the resources the Union could lend us (posting things on the website, help from staff, that sorta stuff) – the second we know when it is, we’ll post it up on here.

We’ve uploaded new photos to Flickr, we’ve got a lot of pages in the new Boar (pick it up!) and we have a schedule for today:

5-7pm: Sounds of Solidarity! Music from Ste Forshaw, Matt Shillito, Pete Blegved and Hannah Tottenham. Come down and enjoy the tunes…
7pm: the film series from the CAPITAL Centre moves to S0.21 to show solidarity. This week’s film is “Tracers”, a joint Iraqi and American produced film about life under occupation (particularly relevant here) with a post-film talk afterwards

Tomorrow, we’re having more speakers from many different backgrounds. We’ll keep you posted!