Bristol Uni ‘profits from genocide’: Students protest in Senate House in support of Palestine

A student demonstration unveiled ‘Free Palestine’ banners in Senate House, protesting the University of Bristol’s involvement with arms companies

At 1pm today a group of students unveiled banners which read “free Palestine”, “UoB profits from genocide” and “decolonisation is not a metaphor” from the balcony of Senate House during the lunchtime rush

After unveiling the banners, Palestinian flags were thrown from the balcony with an applause being heard from below.

After only a few minutes on display, the banners were taken down by security, with the students being told “it’s private property” and for them to move their actions outside.

Leaflets were also distributed entitled “UoB handles blood money & profits from genocide!”

Quoting a value from Demilitarise Education, the leaflets claim Bristol’s defence partnerships are valued at £92 million.

The leaflet demands the university cuts ties with its arms industry partnership and calls for them to make “an official condemnation of the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people”.

The leaflets also contain a list of demands for the university, calling for “an official condemnation of the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people”.

They also ask of the university: “Does the profitability of your corporate interests trump the safety and agency of the people in the Global South?”

The group also claims that a Freedom of Information request made regarding the university’s arms investment portfolio was denied because of the “prejudice” it would pose to “the commercial interests of the university”.

The university has stated that it does not recognise the £92 million figure quoted by the protestors, and that there appears to be no specific Freedom of Information request asking about an “arms investment portfolio”.

This demonstration follows several protests held in the recent weeks by Bristol University student groups. The Socialist Workers Student Society (SWSS) and Friends of Palestine held a march only two weeks ago which saw the attendance of students, staff and trade unionists to demand freedom for Palestine.

These prior protests have been mired with controversy, however, as the SWSS reportedly circulated illegal pamphlets endorsing the actions of Hamas. These pamphlets were addressed by the vice-chancellor of the university, Evelyn Welch, in an email to students where she called for members of the university to “stand together as a community and uphold our shared values”.

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We respect our staff and students’ right to raise concerns about issues they feel strongly about, and we will continue to listen to and engage with their views, however we ask that these are discussed with us directly and through appropriate channels.

“All our partnerships undergo stringent due diligence checks and ethical review, ensuring the university is using its expertise to influence positive change.

“These partnerships mean that we can provide our students with information about a wide range of organisations offering placements and graduate jobs so they can make personal and informed decisions about their future careers.

“It is important to note that defence companies, including the ones listed, do a lot more than arms manufacturing and development. For example, developing wind tunnels, creating materials for lighter, more fuel-efficient cars and planes which will benefit the environment, and electric vehicle propulsion systems.

“Our thoughts continue to be with all members of our community personally affected by the devastating loss of life and suffering in Israel and Gaza.”

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