Students launch ‘indefinite’ encampment outside Leeds Uni SU in solidarity with Palestine

Demonstrators said the encampment would remain until the university was ‘no longer complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people’

Leeds students have announced their intention to camp “indefinitely” outside of Leeds University’s student union in solidarity with Palestine.

The encampment, which began this morning, is occupying the green space opposite Leeds University Union.

The demonstrators, who are protesting under the name Leeds Students Against Apartheid Coalition, said the encampment would remain until Leeds University is “no longer complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people”.

Leeds Socialist Worker Student Society and Student Rebellion Leeds shared their demands in an Instagram post, where they clarified that they “will be here until we decide that we want to leave”.

The coalition criticised University of Leeds “complicity in Israel’s crimes against humanity.”

It said: “Despite clear and repeated communication of our demands and our popular support from the student and staff bodies, the University Executive Group has failed to meaningfully respond and continues to hide behind equivocations, excuses, and silence.

“Its partnerships with arms companies and Israeli universities are especially dangerous in light of Israel’s incessant bombing campaigns in Gaza and intensifying settler violence in occupied Palestine.”

It also explained it would “not be intimidated or removed” and encouraged students and staff to join those demonstrating “in solidarity with the Palestinian people and all those who share our principle of justice, peace, and freedom.”

The coalition declared that there would be “no peace on campus” until this was achieved.

Coinciding with International Worker’s Day, the coalition linked its protest to recent developments in Gaza and the West Bank and on American university campuses. It said: “The recent discovery of mass graves in the ruins of Gazan hospitals and Israel’s deadly raids in the West Bank should have horrified and enraged us all, if we had not already spent the past six months witnessing the unfolding of a genocide.

“Globally, we have seen an intense crackdown on Palestinian activism on university campuses. Hundreds of students and faculty members across America are being arrested for protesting their institutions’ complicity in genocide, and the extreme and excessive police violence against peaceful protestors should alarm all of us who value our inalienable democratic right to protest.”

The coalition called on Leeds University staff and faculties to recognise the importance of collective struggle: “We must also highlight staff and faculty’s role in our collective struggle.

“Only through mass collective mobilisation and struggle can we as students and workers support the Palestinian people and liberate ourselves from systems of subjugation, oppression, and violence.

It also called for the University of Leeds to withdraw all means of support to Israel.

A spokesperson for the University of Leeds said: “The University is monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of participants, as well as our wider community of staff and students. The surrounding area remains open.

“Whilst we respect the right to freedom of expression within the law, we are working to minimise disruption for everyone on campus.

“We know that many in our community are distressed and directly impacted by the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza, and we will continue to do more to support our students, act to protect the cohesion of our community and tackle hatred wherever it is found.”

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Featured image via Leeds SWSS