Bristol University students camp in Royal Fort Gardens in solidarity with Palestine

The students are continuing to lobby the university to cut ties with Arms companies amid the conflict in Palestine

A group of Bristol University students have started an encampment in Royal Fort Gardens today, arriving this morning at 3:00 am.

The students gathered to protest Bristol University’s links to arms companies which supply Israel during the ongoing conflict in Palestine. They are hoping other students will join as the protest continues.

Their location in the Royal Fort Gardens is visible to anyone walking on campus, creating an “educational space” encouraging participation from students.

The group, on Instagram @bristoloccupy4palestine, spoke to The Bristol Tab this morning, telling us it will stay indefinitely until the “university pledges to divest from arms companies, call for an immediate ceasefire and involve students in their partnerships.”

The group aims to increase student democracy on campus. They plan on having an open dialogue with any student who joins them to put forward ideas for the betterment of the university in support of Palestine.

A member of the group said: “We’re steering clear of sort of asserting too many demands ourselves so that we can have it sort of be fleshed out in a more democratic way.”

For the process of asserting their finalised demands, they will host in-person and online forums of discussion to allow any students to be involved even if they do not feel comfortable joining the encampment.

The group plans to host events such as banner-making, fundraisers, talks and know-your-rights training. They hope to get this up and running by Friday.

Credit: Bristol Occupy for Palestine

The same group took part in the Victoria Rooms and executive management building occupations last month. These were ended after the university served them with a possession order and they left to avoid having to stand in court.

Students and staff also penned an open letter to the Vice Chancellor, Evelyn Welch, in November, calling for the university to cut ties with arms companies, which you can read here.

In response to the encampment, a spokesperson from the University of Bristol said: “We are aware that a group has set up several tents in Royal Fort Gardens. We fully respect the rights of our students to peacefully protest within the law.”

The university did not give a response regarding its ties to arms companies.

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