SOAS pro-Palestine protests see security accused of violence

  • Post last modified:June 7, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Students and staff at SOAS have accused the university’s security of assaulting people as they tried to break up a peaceful gathering, as part of the pro-Palestine solidarity camp.

SOAS: security staff ‘assaulting’ pro-Palestine campaigners

At 6pm on Tuesday 4 June the SOAS Liberated Zone for Gaza held a peaceful demonstration that brought together students, alumni, and the wider community in solidarity with Palestine and with members of the SOAS student body who have been formally disciplined for protesting genocide on campus.

During the demonstration, SOAS security physically assaulted members of the SOAS Liberated Zone for Gaza, causing a woman who was protesting to fall down the stairs and two protesters to seek emergency medical treatment for injuries.

This violence by security was specifically targeted at Black and racialised protestors, who were pulled and dragged by their hair. One of these demonstrator’s attention was not focused on the security guard who grabbed them from behind and violently threw them to the ground, remaining on top of them, underscoring the indiscriminate nature of the violence.

This is at least the fourth instance in the last two weeks in which SOAS security have used physical force against students protesting the university’s complicity in genocide. It also follows a day in which SOAS administration announced disciplinary action against at least eight students.

“Racialised repression”

A spokesperson for the SOAS Liberated Zone said:

The severe increase in racialised repression is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by our community:

They continued:

Let us be clear: the violent anti-Blackness displayed by SOAS on Tuesday is not new to this university and it is not new to this administration.

The group says that both vice-chancellor Adam Habib and head of security Cornelius Potgieter have documented histories of deploying private security and state forces on students, workers, and other members of the community, stretching back to their tenures at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.

Calls on SOAS to embody its stated values and to sever complicity with genocidal apartheid have heightened in pitch. Yet university bosses have instead responded by delaying negotiations with the Liberated Zone, repressing students physically and administratively, expanding their private security staff, and calling police onto campus.

Indeed, during Tuesday’s rally over six vans and thirty police officers were present on and around campus, continuing the trend of SOAS putting students – especially racialised students – at risk of state violence.

The repression continued over the coming days:

SOAS: “we will not stop”

The SOAS Liberated Zone for Gaza reiterates its call on the university community and the broader community to support the student encampment and its seven demands, which include:

  • Divesting from companies complicit in the genocide.
  • Cutting ties with the University of Haifa.
  • Terminating its banking relationship with Barclays.
  • Ending this targeted and escalating repression of solidarity with Palestine on campus.

A spokesperson for the group said:

We will not stop, we will not rest, until these demands are met.

Featured image via SOAS Liberated Zone

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