Uni of York Pro-Palestine encampment spreads to second lawn after one week of occupation

Demonstrators have been demanding the uni fully cut ties with weapons manufacturers

The Pro-Palestine solidarity encampment, which was set up at the University of York last week, has spread across a second lawn outside of Heslington Hall.

Whilst the University of York announced its divestment from arms companies last month, students and staff are demanding that the institution fully cuts ties with weapon manufacturers in the form of research funds and grants and stands in solidarity with Palestine.

The camp was set up on the 76th anniversary of the Nakba last week, and has now grown to spread across to the lawn behind Heslington Hall. Protesters have also written in chalk across the nearby pavement, including “free Palestine” and “divest and disclose”.

The encampment has spread to a second lawn at the back of Heslington Hall

This comes after a protest saw 300 University of York staff and students walk out and rally through campus two weeks ago.

The encampment has a list of five demands to the University of York, including cutting ties with weapons manufacturers, supporting Gaza’s educational institutions, providing scholarships for Palestinian students, a statement condemning the Palestinian genocide, and to help support Fadi Hania, a Uni of York alumni and Gazan citizen.

The occupation is one of many that has sprung up on university campuses across the country, including at Leeds, Newcastle, London, Edinburgh, and Birmingham, where students have since been threatened with legal action. Since last week, the camp has seen enough students and staff to join to spread across to a second lawn outside Heslington Hall.

The encampment has been hosting teach-ins, study sessions, arts and crafts events, and trainings, posting daily schedules for events on Instagram. Leaflets have also been handed out on campus providing information about the encampment, its demands, and how and why students and staff should join.

Last month, The University of York announced that it no longer holds any investments in arms manufacturers, as well as fossil fuel banking and international law violators, making it the first UK university to do so.

The York Encampment student group said on this in a press release: “The encampment claims that the university has not committed to cutting ties with the Israeli apartheid scheme.”

The organisation claims the the uni is one of 82 universities which the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) say are “at risk for potential criminal liability over investments held in arms companies and Israeli settlements”.

The Press Liaison for the encampment told The York Tab that the university “hasn’t met our demands.”

They said: “We want to show solidarity and support for other universities across the country and across the world as well. The other encampments, particularly ones in the United States.”

A spokesperson for The University of York told The York Tab: “Lawful free speech is to be treasured, including protests and demonstrations on campus, and we are proud of our campaigning students who over the years have rightly challenged the university, the government and others on a number of issues. We need to make sure we listen and learn from each other, but we reject violence, intimidation and harassment.

“We have a strong history of challenging social injustice and we recognise the strength of feeling students may have on many global issues. We believe our community does – and will continue to – embrace the values of free expression, ensuring our campus is a place where difficult issues can be discussed openly, in good faith and mutual respect.”

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