Sunday, 8 February 2009

General update Sunday

First of all, an urgent call-out for art materials for the Viva Palestina convoy that will be leaving from London on Sat 14th February. This is a request from art students in Gaza, whose university was bombed. They are looking for paint, paintbrushes, canvases, sketch pads: in fact anything that an art student could use. If you can help with this request, please contact Harriett, from the Surplus Resources and Scholarships working group asap.

The national wave has gone international! We received news yesterday that the University of Rochester in New York had gone into occupation, and within nine hours they had claimed a complete victory! Their demands, which the Dean of Student affairs signed without amendments, were divestment from arms companies and other war profiteers, a day of fundraising for humanitarian aid for Gaza, twinning with the devastated University of Gaza and the sending of surplus academic resources, and five annual scholarships for Palestinian students. No students faced repercussions for their actions. Congratulations to Rochester for their swift success, and to other unis internationally: get on it guys!

In an amazing and appallingly unpublicised act of individual solidarity, Maria Gallestegui has entered the 4th week of a hunger strike in Parliament Square in London. She has been delivering a petition to Downing Street every day, having pledged not to end it until the blockade on Gaza is lifted. We hope that, with the blood of over 1300 Palestinians on their hands already, the British government will listen to the public voice before another life is lost to the Israeli occupation. Peace, solidarity and awe to Maria. 

On Saturday, a few members of the occupation went down to the demo at warehouse of Carmel-Agrexco, the main UK importer of produce from the occupied territories. After a few organisational hiccups, protestors arrived to find that the Met police had already set up their own blockade with 150 policemen blocking off the entrance having been camped out all night, so they waited around being photographed by the Forward "Intelligence" Team before the banners and the media arrived, and then had a bit of a chant and a rally. 

Last week saw a variety of different educational public events around campus including a moving performance of the Palestine Monologues, a panel including the Palestinian ambassador, and a screening of Occupation 101. All events were well-attended, showing the continued interest and energy  across campus around the issues motivating the occupations around the country.

We are also working hard to continue extending our links nationally with representatives attending the Stop the War conference on Saturday and a delegate visiting the Manchester occupation (which is still going and urgently need support: email VC Alan Gilbert at this weekend. We will also be hosting a national forum next Friday for representatives from the different occupations to meet and discuss our next steps as a national movement. 

And also on the subject of the national movement, check out the article in today's Independent, particularly notable for the following shock statement which almost sounds like an endorsement from NUS president Wes Streeting: "It's about time we got [sic] the student movement going again and had an impact.Glad to have you on board at last Wes! We look forward to seeing the national student union joining in with the national student movement! Check out as well the coverage of the occupation in the Badger last week. We made the front page!