Oxford encampment

Students launch encampment in solidarity with Palestine at The University of Oxford

Tents have been pitched outside the Pitt Rivers and Natural History Museums

An encampment in solidarity with Palestine has been set up at The University of Oxford. Students are calling the university to cut financial ties with Israel following the situation in Gaza.

Tents began to appear outside the University of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of Natural History at 8am on Monday morning. This means there are now 14 university encampments across the UK.

Students at Oxford have named their camp a “liberated zone”, mirroring the camp at Columbia University in the US which was stormed by riot police who made hundreds of arrests.

Via Instagram @oxact4pal

By lunchtime yesterday around 70 tents had been pitched at the Oxford camp. Tents can be seen across the lawns covered in hand-painted signs reading “Welcome to the People’s University for Palestine”, “Oxford Action for Palestine”, “There are no universities left in Gaza” and “Divest from genocide”.

Via Instagram @oxact4pal

According to the Oxford for Palestine organisation, the demands include: disclosing university-wide assets, divesting university-wide assets, overhauling investment policy, boycotting institutional relationships, dropping Barclays Bank and rebuilding and reinvesting.

Oxford encampment

Via Via Instagram @oxact4pal

A joint statement from the organisers Oxford Action for Palestine and Cambridge for Palestine reads: “Over 100 universities across the globe have now taken bold and urgent action for Palestine. As members of these institutions, we refuse to accept our universities’ complicity in Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people – and we refuse to stand by while they justify Israel’s campaign of mass slaughter, starvation, and displacement.”

“Oxbridge’s profits cannot continue to climb at the expense of Palestinian lives, and their reputations must no longer be built on the white-washing of Israeli crimes.”

More than 170 Oxford faculty and staff members have also signed an open letter in support of the encampment and its aims.

The students have launched an Instagram page for encampment and are posting updates including a programme of events over the coming days which features teach-ins, workshops, wellness circles, poetry circles, film screenings and vigils.

Footage from the protest posted on X shows students chanting: “We are the people. We will not be silenced. Stop the bombing now, now, now” as the students claim they “will not rest until our demands are met”. The camp features study tents, toilet facilities and food-making areas.

Calling out for supplies on its Instagram page today, Oxford Action for Palestine has requested donations of plywood, tarps, tents, storage boxers with lids, tables, chairs and gazebos.

Ana, a second-year Oxford student taking part in the encampment at Oxford, said there was an “optimistic” atmosphere, with students working on essays alongside attending workshops. “It’s time for more than protests that happen every two weeks,” she said. “It’s time for us to be here … in place until the university accepts our demands.”

A third-year student at Oxford said the encampment would remain for “as long as it takes”, adding: “We have no fear of continuing to escalate until these demands are met.”

Oxford encampment

Via Instagram @oxact4pal

Sneha Krishnan, an associate professor in human geography at the university, said it was “scandalous” that universities had not openly condemned Israel’s actions. “I strongly believe that students everywhere in the world are leading us in an important moral struggle at this moment,” she said.

An Oxford University spokesperson said: “We are aware of the ongoing demonstration by members of our university community. We respect our students and staff members right to freedom of expression in the form of peaceful protests. We ask everyone who is taking part to do so with respect, courtesy and empathy.

“Oxford University’s primary focus is the health and safety of the university community, and to ensure any impact on work, research and learning, including student exams, is minimised. As we have stressed in our student and staff communications there is no place for intolerance at the University of Oxford.”

“The Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum remain open.”

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Featured image via X.