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Manchester students crash UoM Senate meeting during protest for Palestine

Students entered the meeting with banners chanting ‘your profits are covered in Palestinian blood’

University of Manchester students crashed a university Senate meeting yesterday, protesting against the university’s ties with arms companies and Israel.

The protest saw several students infiltrating the meeting held in one of the university’s lecture halls, where decisions on academic and research matters are decided. Members of university staff filled the rows, with others joining virtually via Zoom.

Chanting the phrase “your profits are covered in Palestinian blood”, the students made their way to the front of the room, where they presented a banner reading “End Graphene Warfare”.

via @y.f.f.p and @manchesterpsc on Instagram

In a video posted on Instagram by the Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Manchester Youth Front for Palestine, a student can be heard saying: “It should not be on students that their research is going to be employed on a genocide happening right now”.

A member of the university attempted to disperse the protest, asking the students to leave the room so that the meeting could continue: “We now ask you to please leave the room so that we can carry forward with the meeting. Otherwise I’m afraid that we will have no choice but to abandon the meeting”.

On being asked to leave, the student directing the protest replied that the dispersal of the protest depended on the university’s response to their demands.

“It depends. It depends on what the people in this room want to do. It doesn’t just depend on us.”, they said.

The protest was seemingly diffused after a university staff member agreed to discuss the protestors demands at the end of the Senate meeting.

via @y.f.f.p and @manchesterpsc on Instagram

They said: “If we discuss this as an agenda item at the end of the meeting, then will that be good for you?”

Protests continued outside of the University of Manchester, where students gathered with banners and Palestinian flags.

Chants of “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” can be heard, with the video on Instagram showing students holding banners reading “Stop arming Israel” and “University of Manchester racist against Palestinians”

via @y.f.f.p and @manchesterpsc on Instagram

On Instagram, both organisations captioned the video: “Manchester University students, staff, and the community members blockaded the building, several Uni of Manchester students crashed the Senate meeting, where decisions on academic and research matters are decided.

“They demanded the end to all research ties with arms companies and Israel. As a result of our protest, our demands were added to the agenda.

“It is only the second week of action, and we have already won a victory and our demands are being heard. We will continue to fight until we win!

“Stop Arming Israel. End Graphene Warfare. Free Palestine.”

A University spokesperson said: “We want to make it clear that The University of Manchester (including its graphene activities) has no involvement with the Israeli defence sector.

“For clarification, in 2014 an early graphene manufacturing spinout called 2-D Tech was sold to a British company called Versarien. In 2018, four years after the sale to Versarien, its then CEO, who has now left the company, announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The University of Manchester had no involvement in the MoU.

“We understand that Versarien may have delivered some samples of Nanene for evaluation which were produced by Versarien on the basis of intellectual property originated at another university, but that Versarien then had no further engagement with IAI. Graphene can be easily sourced on commercial terms from several parts of the world.

“Versarien is a Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) partner, currently at our second level (Tier Two) along with many other graphene companies. Key projects that they have undertaken in the GEIC have addressed consumer products and/or been with existing UK partners of the university from industry and government.

“We have clear policies on intellectual property and export control, along with robust due diligence processes, which all our researchers, overseas and domestic, must adhere to as part of their professional contracts. These systems are consistently reviewed, and we take all necessary measures to assure ourselves that our research is not used beyond its agreed application.

“The university gives careful consideration to its research collaborations and follows all government legislation and guidance alongside our own robust partnership process.”