Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Goldsmiths, Edinburgh, UEA occupied! Shame on Sheffield Hallam SU!

Nearly a month after some SOAS students took the MOD building on their campus in solidarity with Gaza, the (inter)national wave of occupations is still growing, with those who have ended occupations showing no sign of lessening their resolve to ensure that demands are implemented and practical solidarity with Palestine is achieved, and news of new and planned occupations still coming in constantly.

Today saw new occupations initiated at Goldsmiths (right), Edinburgh, and the University of East Anglia. Among UEA's demands are twinning with the bombed University of Gaza, and a condemnation from its union of the "failure of the NUS to address the massacre in Gaza in a meaningful way", whilst Edinburgh has demanded "that the university suspend all relations with companies enabling the conflict and/or occupation" and "that the university provide logistical and financial support for a series of informative lectures on the Palestine/Israel question."

In other shocking news, Matt Vicary, equal opportunities officer at Sheffield Hallam, has been suspended by the president of his own student union for a display of solidarity with Gaza at the recent NUS conference in the face of the imminent passing of the structurally debilitating governance review (which effectively takes away the student voice at a national level). Several other students have been threatened with suspension for their part in the university occupations. Such victimisation of those students who are prepared to stand up for their own basic rights and those of others globally is wholly disgraceful and a danger to the movement and to the basic concept of our freedom to protest. Join the facebook group in support of Matt, or ring Hallam Union on 0114 225 4111 to complain.

Lastly, Maria Gallestegui ended her hunger strike yesterday on doctors' warnings after 30 days without food calling for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. We wish her a quick recovery and condemn the UK government and media for their failure to acknowledge this heroic act of solidarity and the urgency of those issues underlying it.

A message of solidarity from the Islamic University of Gaza

Dear fellow students of Sussex University,

We would like to express our sincere thanks and deep appreciation for all your conscious efforts, endeavours and demands to support the right to education, justice and freedom in Palestine.

We wholeheartedly support your peaceful protests against the blanket bombing of Gaza in general and the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) in particular which suffered extensive destruction and damage to all its buildings, academic facilities. Additionally more than 20,000 students, whose families have been agonizing from the suffocating siege of Gaza, have lost some members of their families and many others have lost their houses.

With great respect and admiration, we have been following all activities taking place in 19 British universities. Your brave campaign has strengthened both our hope and will that we are not alone in this just battle against unprecedented blatant injustices and flagrant violation of human in Palestine.

We are absolutely proud of you all and proud of your solidarity and support campaign for the right to education in Palestine which gives us bright light in the heart of the military occupation darkness.

We wish you full success in your supportive campaign and in achieving all your sensible demands which show a high level of awareness and commitment to defend basic human rights in Gaza at a time of obvious media bias and hypocrisy of many governments.

We hope to cooperate with you soon to establish mutual academic cooperation between our academic institutions. In this regard, we confirm our high interest and strong willingness to provide you with any information, facts, plans, courses, etc related to your practical demands.

In solidarity with Sussex university students in Occupation

Dr Kamalain Sha'ath
President, The Islamic University of Gaza