Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Some statements of support

We are grateful for the many statements of solidarity and support that we have received since we started our occupation. These are some of them:

"You are doing great work. There are so many actions taking place in Brighton in solidarity with the people of Palestine - let's hope that together we can make our voices heard and make a difference." Ann Hallam, Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign
"I have just heard about your occupation and wish to applaud your brave and
principled stance. The assault by Israel on Gaza was a brutal act of state
terrorism and a crime against humanity. Any institution that gives support to
this state and its institutions is clearly in breach of human rights laws and the
Geneva Convention. You are not alone and I very much hope that some real justice
comes from your action." - Dr. R. Hasan, Senior Lecturer, SPRU - Science &
Technology Policy Research

"Solidarity greetings from Kings College London Socialist Students to you! We were very excited to hear you had gone into occupation as well"

"All our luck and solidarity" - Warwick Socialist Students

"Solidarity greetings from the Wednesday branch of the Brighton and Hove Socialist Party. We stand in solidarity with you and the workers in Palestine and throughout the Middle East. For a socialist Middle East free from war, poverty and terror."

"Just wanted to say well done for occupying at Sussex... this wave of occupations is incredibly inspiring, and I was really pleased to hear about you following in the steps of LSE, SOAS and all the others in taking action. Solidarity from Manchester." - Siobhan

"In our consumerist and celebrity obsessed age many people don't want to know about wars and conflicts, it's too ugly and uncomfortable. But how can it be that our comfortable lifestyles are based on so much suffering in the world. Let's not put up with it. It's fantastic that you guys take this action." -
Susanne Schuster

"Just wanted to send you a message of support for your actions in defence of Palestine. Keep up the pressure - you will be an inspiration to others." - Dr Karen Evans, Senior Lecturer, School of Sociology and Social Policy and National Executive of UCU

"I am a lecturer in the law department at London Met and have just heard of your occupation. What's happened in Gaza has disgusted millions around the world and we can't allow Israel to continue to deny any humanity to the Palestinians and keep on flouting International Law. I'm writing to express my full support for what you are doing. Keep it up...nothing changes unless people stand up and demand change." - Rob Murthwaite

"Stay strong safe and wise because you´re about to do something big." - Francisco Silva, Tasca Do Chico blog

"Your action gives me hope for the future. It's wonderful to know that there are young people who are well informed
and prepared to do something for a better world." -Vesna Main

"Congratulations on your brilliant action! Keep up the struggle. Palestine must be free!" -
John Molyneux
Secretary, Portsmouth Stop the War Coalition

"I'm one of the Sussex profs who signed the letter in the Guardian. I'm so glad to hear
you're taking action, and I wanted to write to you to give you my support. I've been in Cairo,
so haven't been able to come to the meeting, nor will I be able to go on the march today.
I am here with Palestinian colleagues - including a colleague from Gaza who lost family and
friends in the attack, and whose son has survived but been traumatised by seeing children die.
They urge us all to demonstrate and to keep on demonstrating, and to put on the pressure
for a full boycott of Israel." -
Andrea Cornwall

"Solidarity with the occupying students of Sussex. Free, free Palestine." - Malcolm Povey,UCU National Executive (Personal Capacity)

"Tonight's meeting of the Manchester Trades Union Council, with delegates from branches of the RMT, UNITE, UNISON, FBU, NUJ, PCS, USDAW and UCU unions, voted unanimously to send a message of support to the
student occupations in Sussex, Warwick, King's and LSE protesting Israel's attack on Gaza and its continuing blockade. We consider your example of action in solidarity with the oppressed, against the is an inspiration to us
all in the struggle for justice for Palestine." -
Geoff Brown, Secretary, Manchester Trades Union Council

"These are very dark days for the Palestinians. The savage Israeli assault on them has ended but the occupation has not. I salute you on the brave stand you have taken on behalf of the people of Gaza. Keep up the struggle for justice for the Palestinians!" - Avi Shlaim, FBA Professor of International Relations, St Antony's College, Oxford

"As a long standing member of PSC who has sometimes felt that we are shouting into the wind, it is wonderful for us too to know that our message is no longer going unheard. Actions like yours can only help to bring the issues to more general public awareness. Thank you and good luck." - Penny Porter, Treasurer Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign

"It is wrong that:

In Gaza , children,
you learn that the sky kills
and that houses hurt.
You learn that your blanket is smoke
and breakfast is dirt.

You learn that cars do somersaults
clothes turn red,
friends become statues,
bakers don't sell bread.

You learn that the night is a gun,
that toys burn
breath can stop,
it could be your turn.

You learn:
if they send you fire
they couldn't guess:
not just the soldier dies -
it's you and the rest.

Nowhere to run,
nowhere to go,
nowhere to hide
in the home you know.

You learn
that death isn't life,
that air isn't bread,
the land is for all.
You have the right to be
Not Dead.
You have the right to be
Not Dead.
You have the right to be
Not Dead.

Michael Rosen

It is right that you occupy against this wrong. Thankyou"
Alan Miller Lecturer University of St Andrews

Communique to all universities occupying in solidarity with Palestinians:

Occupying students of Sussex University extend their full support and solidarity to all other university occupations that have taken and continue to take place in response to the current events in Gaza.

We are enraged and horrified by the unspeakable atrocities that have been committed by the Israeli military on the people of Palestine, and we will not tolerate the complicity of our own institutions of education in this violence.

We recognise that, as students, the university is a place for us to express ourselves as a community to the rest of the world. We call on all students to take action in solidarity with the plight of the Gazans and ensure that their university promotes human value over economic values.

Update: Tues evening... 24 hours in!

We have now been in occupation for over 24 hours. From the spontaneous decision to not move from Arts A2 lecture theatre following the meeting and speaker session last night, much has been achieved in this one day.

This afternoon two delegates from the occupation met with members of the Vice-Chancellor's office to discuss the terms with which they were presented this morning. They were received with politeness and sympathy, however none of the demands have been met. As a result we have resolved to continue to strengthen our campaign and appeal to all those who have not done so yet to come along to Arts A2 and get involved.

There will be a rally and a march tomorrow starting at 1pm around the central university area where we will hear from speakers and visibly express our condemnation of the Israeli atrocities in Gaza with a strong and vocal presence. A silent occupation will also continue throughout daytime lectures until 5pm. External speakers are being arranged for the early evening and will be confirmed shortly.

Relations with campus security have been amiable, and the atmosphere of the day's events dynamic and enjoyable. Statements of support have been arriving thick and fast from all quarters and we were inspired by the news this morning that London School of Economics have succeeded in getting all bar one of their demands met and that this afternoon Warwick university students have also now occupied a space on their campus. We feel as though we are truly part of a national movement and two delegates will be attending a press conference at LSE tomorrow alongside members of all other occupied universities.

There is to be an information stall set up in Arts A2 where anybody will be able to come and pick up information and petitions to disseminate among friends and within their lectures. We urge everybody to talk about the occupation with as many people as you can and encourage your friends and classmates to come and show their support. There will also be a hot evening meal every night (many thanks to the Islamic society and to the Autonomous Cafe for their amazing contributions tonight) and there are snacks, tea and coffee throughout the day.

Tonight we aim to catch up on a bit of sleep, and start tomorrow fresh and ready for renewed creative action.

Notes on Sussex University arms investment

UK arms company shareholdings: Cobham £1,389

US arms company shareholdings: General Electric £4,373
(see and

Total Assets Invested (all shares) £9,321,000Arms shares as % of total investments 0.06

Information refers to May 2008

To verify information, email: James Knapton, Freedom of Information OfficerTo register concerns, email: Allan Spencer, Director of Finance

Information sourced from Campaign Against the Arms Trade

More events today...

At 5pm there will be a communal breaking of the fast meal at the friends' meeting house. All students are invited to join, whether you have been fasting or not.

Sussex students' Amnesty International group are currently holding a group letter-writing session in the top left-hand corner of Arts A2 which will continue into the afternoon.

And of course please come along to the occupation tonight: bring sleeping bags and food (though we do have lots still at the moment). We will probably be watching some films: suggestions welcome.

Come along to our general meeting at 1:15pm today!

A general meeting has been called for all students, staff, and other interested parties for 1:15 pm today in the occupied Arts A2 lecture theatre. There will be speakers from trade union and other groups and the opportunity to discuss the demands issued this morning to the university management. Please come along and show your support.

There is also a 'Naming of the Dead' demonstration at 4pm outside the ITT factory (which supplies components for F16 missiles to the Israeli military) organised by the Smash EDO campaign. A group of students will be meeting after the general meeting in order to walk over together.

At 7pm this evening is the first of our daily occupation strategy meetings where we will hear feedback from all working groups on their day's activities and discuss the next steps of our occupation.

This occupation intends to be inclusive of all Sussex students and we encourage you to attend meetings and get involved in whatever way possible.

Tuesday afternoon update.

Following last night's spontaneous decision after the rally to begin an occupation with immediate effect, many people brought blankets and sleeping bags to spend the night in Arts A2, with some working groups working round the clock to put everything in place for today's university day. It is the stated intention of the occupation not to disrupt in any way the education of our fellow students and as such we have decided to allow all lectures to continue as normal and free entry to students in and out of the occupied space. A statement was sent out to lecturers this morning by email informing them of our purpose and intentions and requesting a couple of minutes space at the beginning of lectures to raise awareness of the occupation, its causes and its aims.

After some initial verbal and physical aggravation from one or two isolated members of campus security this morning (including doors being forced shut and one protestor's phone being grabbed from out of his hands whilst filming the aggressive behaviour) scheduled lectures resumed in Arts A2 at 10:00am with 15 protestors maintaining a symbolic presence at the back of the room. Lecturers and students have been generally very receptive to the occupation with a stall in library square also gathering interest and petition signatures. Spirits are high, despite the lack of sleep for some, and we have plenty of food and tasks to keep us going! The local and national press have been contacted and the university management has agreed to meet two students this afternoon to discuss our demands. We have received numerous statements of support already from students of Sussex and other universities and even the international community.

Please also join our facebook group: 'Support to Sussex University Occupation' and email statements of support to:

Press Release: Sussex Students for A Free Palestine.

Over 80 University of Sussex Students have occupied a major lecture theatre in solidarity with Palestine under siege.

Motivated by the escalating crisis in Gaza, University of Sussex students have issued a set of demands to the University management calling for immediate action. The occupation is a response to recent Israeli military assault on Gaza. We stand in solidarity with the School of Oriental and African Studies, the London School of Economics, King's College London, Birmingham and Essex Universities. The occupied space will be used for education and dialogue until the following demands are met:

We demand:

1. That the University of Sussex issue a statement condemning the recent and continuing atrocities perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza strip. The University should officially denounce the attacks on civilians, the systematic obstruction of humanitarian aid and the targeting of academic institutions, hospitals, places of worship and international peace keeping facilities.

2. That the University of Sussex cease to invest directly or indirectly in companies complicit in human rights abuses in the Gaza strip and internationally. We would like to draw attention to the motion passed on this subject in the USSU AGM this academic year.

3. That no Israeli goods or goods produced by companies that have directly funded the State of Israel be sold on campus. The University of Sussex should remove these goods from all private retail and dining facilities as the Union is endeavoring to accomplish.

4. That the University of Sussex provide complete financial scholarships for three students from Al-Quds Open University in Tubas with which USSU is twined and three students from Gaza University which has been bombed by the Israeli military.

5. That any surplus educational resources available to the University of Sussex are provided to Gaza University and that the shipping of these resources be fully paid for by the University of Sussex.

6. That there be no legal, financial, or academic measures taken against anyone involved in or supporting the occupation. This extends to the Student Union. Students involved will be guaranteed free movement in and out of the occupied space.

This is a non violent and inclusive protest decisions are made on the base of consensus decision making. All University of Sussex students are encouraged to participate in this process. 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.