Edinburgh students involved in encampment announce hunger strike until demands are met

Three students are presently on hunger strike

Three students at the University of Edinburgh have begun a hunger strike following an encampment within the Old College Quad, with several more anticipating to join.

The students, members of the university’s Justice For Palestine society (EUJPS), have decided to abstain from food after months of trying to pressure the university into divesting from companies supplying arms to Israel.

The encampment began at midday on Sunday, following a number of similar large-scale encampments taking place in campuses across the country.

EUJPS made their initial announcement saying: “We have no choice but to turn to the most extreme form of protest, putting our bodies on the line to force senior management to face their failure to be accountable to their students.

“We refuse to uncritically benefit from education given to us by a university that has historically so directly contributed to the colonisation of Palestine through its close ties with Lord Arthur Balfour, and we refuse to be made complicit by our silence in the economic and academic support that our university gives to the illegitimate and genocidal state of Israel.”

@eu_jps via Instagram

According to EUJPS, the demands include: Divest from companies with ties to Israel, sever research collaborations, acknowledge genocide, denounce its role in the conflict, combat anti-semitism, pay reparations to Gaza, and provide scholarships to Gaza students.

One student taking part in the hunger strike, wishing to remain anonymous, said: “I am doing this hunger strike in protest of the unprecedented famine that’s now been enforced deliberately by the Israeli Government.”

The hunger strike is a reflection of the 1917 Balfour declaration that promised to help establish a national home for the Jewish People in Palestine, where 35 Edinburgh students set up encampments outside the former chancellor’s office, Arthur Balfour.

@eu_jps via Instagram

One activist applauded the group’s decision, saying: “You have organised and occupied and protested without the university acknowledging their complicity in genocide despite the physical ties to the Balfour declaration that started this entire occupation. You are incredible and we stand with you. Solidarity and respect.”

Principal and vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mathieson said: “We have very recently been notified of the intention of an unknown number of students to commence a hunger strike as an indication of their strength of feeling and determination around issues related to Palestine and Israel.

“Whilst we recognise their bodily autonomy, we appeal to them and others not to take risks with their own health, safety and wellbeing. We are in daily contact with the protesters to ensure they are aware of the health and wellbeing support available to them.”

Cover image via Instagram.

Related articles recommended by this writer: