Group of Bristol Uni students protest outside Senate House in solidarity with Palestine

A speaker congratulated the student movement saying, ‘Your voices are louder than their bombs’

A protest took place today outside Senate House, led by the group that are currently staging an encampment in Royal Fort Gardens.

The student-led group, on Instagram @bristoloccupy4palestine, are continuing their programme of lobbying the university to cut ties with arms companies amid the conflict in Palestine.

Starting at 12.30pm, crowds quickly gathered in support of the different speakers, which comprised of both students and guests from outside the university.

Leaflets were handed out calling for students to support the encampment, reading: “UOB profits from developing weapons used to kill, control and contain Palestinians, and other resisting imperialism.”

Across the hour-long protest, different speakers took turns addressing the crowd, including Ron, coming from the United States, who drew attention to the international aspect of the pro-Palestinian protests, saying: “Your voices are louder than their bombs.”

Ben, speaking on behalf of the student occupation group, said: “What we see here in front of us is a radicalised layer of society that is sick and tired of being complicit in imperialism and genocide.

“When I signed up to join this university, I signed up looking for high quality education, to move on in the world and make a better world for my fellow man.

“Instead what I found was complicity in genocide, I found an institution that is happy supporting and condoning the destructions of schools and hospitals in another country, that is happy in supporting an illegal occupation and a genocide.”

He then remarked that the turn-out of the protest was encouraging, and that “it is fantastic what we are doing in standing up against this, showing that we will not support these imperialists.”

He noted that the group had not yet finalised their demands, but they can sure that one of them will be for “divestment.” This involves completely cutting off the university’s ties with arms companies.

He finished his speech by calling on students and workers of the university to keep pressuring the university.

“We must be willing to keep pushing forwards with this struggle, to keep being more radical, and keep pushing against them, because they will not accept us without a fight.”

The protest was part of the Camp Agenda, put together by those organising the encampment, continuing at Royal Fort Gardens. The group plans to host more events, such as banner-making, fundraisers, talks and know-your-rights training.

The same group took part in the Victoria Rooms and executive management building occupation 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.

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We fully respect the rights of our students to peacefully protest within the law. We recognise the distress and impact on all staff and students at the university of the ongoing violence and conflict in Israel-Gaza.

“It is more important than ever that we sustain our shared values of mutual respect, support, and compassion for each other, whatever our individual views.”

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