University of Manchester now occupied by students over Israel

  • Post last modified:May 25, 2024
  • Reading time:10 mins read

Late last night (Friday 24 May 2024), a group of several dozen students occupied the Whitworth building on the University of Manchester campus. It was over Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza and the university’s complicity in this.

University of Manchester: under occupation

Students have barricaded all entrances to the building::

Banners are also being flown:

Protesters are linked to the nearby Encampment of Resistance for Palestine and are demanding that the University promises no disciplinary action for student activists and opens negotiations with the camp about their demands. They say the University of Manchester must:

  • End its partnership with BAE Systems.
  • Cut ties with Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • Adopt a policy ensuring that all research is ethical and doesn’t contribute towards the arms trade.
  • Not pursue disciplinary action against any students involved in the Encampment, occupations or other protests.

Despite the encampment now reaching its 25th day, the university has refused any communication with the camp and has instead chosen to continue to prioritise it’s profitable ties with companies and institutions directly involved in the genocide being carried out in Gaza.

Over the last 25 days, over 500 students and community members from across Manchester have taken part in the camp to force the university to negotiate on their demands. The encampment in Manchester is just one of over 30 across universities in Britain, prompting Rishi Sunak to summon vice-chancellors from across the country to a meeting at Downing Street to discuss the encampments last week.

At the University of Manchester, a student has been suspended for involvement in an earlier occupation for Palestine and another student had their visa revoked by the Home Office.

Divest from Israel or face the consequences

Occupiers said:

The University must realise that targeting of student activists with disciplinary action will not dissuade protesters. We are witnessing a genocide and nothing that the University can threaten us with compares to the suffering of the Palestinian people. The student body has already voted overwhelmingly in favour of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions and our movement is only growing.

Tel Aviv University – whom UoM has a research partnership with – helped develop the Dahiya Doctrine, which calls for the mass targeting of civilian infrastructure. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is built on illegally occupied land, with exchange students from UoM sent to live in these settlements.

BAE Systems is Europe’s largest arms company and is involved in producing F-35 and F-16 jets, which are used against Palestinians in Gaza. The University of Manchester has no policy regulating whether research could be used to harm lives or for other unethical purposes, and has received at least £15m in research funding from arms companies in the last five years.

The occupiers said:

We have taken the Whitworth building to escalate our pressure on the University to end its ties with the genocide in Palestine. We have full control of this building which is due to hold hundreds of students for exams next week. We will not leave until the University commit to not disciplining any student protesters and enter negotiations on the other demands.

If students are concerned about the potential impact of this action on their exams they should direct their complaints to the University, which continues to value its profitable links to genocide over the welfare of its students.

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