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Tomorrow (Monday 23rd) we will have more people giving talks on the occupation at 2.30pm in Upper College Hall. Speakers include:

– Steve West – Representative of PCS Union

– Alan MacKinnon – Chair of Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

EDIT: date changed 😀

We had a great rally in St Salvator’s Quad today! Over a hundred people came to show their support. There were four main speakers:      

 

Pete Cannell from Stop the War Coalition spoke about the extremely successful  Glasgow conference yesterday. He saw the recent student occupations across Scotland as marking a “sea change” in activism and awareness. Occupations like those currently being held in St Andrews. He spoke of the hypocrisy of shutting down only the arms routes to Hamas whilst the UK, and particularly the arms industries in Fife were open to trade hi-tech weapon parts which are used against Palestinians.

 

Sarah Glynn from Scottish Jews for a Just Peace said ‘the Israeli government presents itself as a saviour and protector of the Jewish people and expects people like me in our gratitude to protect it from criticism. Well, I’m not grateful—I’m angry…Israeli foreign policy is dictated by the US imperial project…Israel is used to control the spread of an a secular Arab nationalism’. In support of our occupation she said ‘it is really uplifting to see the growing movement in support of Palestine’.  Speaking of embargoes, she said. ‘We hope to impact the Israeli economy and at the same time we are helping to send a message that the Israeli’s actions are not acceptable’. She also highlighted that we should continue to be critical also of Hamas and that ‘criticism of Hamas does not imply that Israel’s actions are any more acceptable’.

 

‘We are campaigning not just for peace, but justice—for liberty, equality and fraternity’

 

Richard Haley from Scotland against Criminalising Communities said ironically, ‘campaigning for many years against the occupation, it is rare that I can say this long live the occupation!’ (in reference to our occupation of Lower College Hall). He spoke of the emerging student movement and its role in ensuring discussion continues, that the spreading mood becomes something concrete. 

 

Margaret Pacetta gave a very heartfelt talk on her direct experience in Palestine as part of the Glasgow-Palestine Human Rights Campaign, and the International Solidarity Movement. She told stories of Palestinian children being shot in cold blood, the increasingly dire situation in the West Bank ‘It is hell…it will become the new Gaza.’ ‘There have been 104 more checkpoints since Tony Blair has become Peace Envoy to the Middle East.’ She lauded the courageous work of the International Solidarity Movement and Israelis Against the Wall, encouraging all interested to volunteer in their work. Her experiences in the West Bank have made her determined to never stop campaigning for Human Rights stating that “anything to humiliate they will do” but “they will never stop us…for what is happening is not a war but a massacre”. She called upon all young people to get involved in these movements.

 

Thank you to everyone who came, check out the photos.

We are holding a rally at 3pm in St. Salvador’s Quad to which we expect the following 4 speakers:

Peter Cannell (National Officer of Stop the War Coalition),

Richard Haley (Head of Scotland Against Criminalizing Communities),

Margaret Pacetta (Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign),

And Sarah Glynn (Scottish Jews for a Just Peace).

 

This is to be followed in the evening by an OPEN MIC (8pmish), so bring along your poems,
guitars, and thoughts to the stage. The theme is resistance poetry and music.

This is a great opportunity to come and talk about our plans and progress to
date.

Come and show your support!

Thank you.

 

EDIT: Thank you to all the 100-odd people who showed up throughout and most importantly to the passionate and invaluable speakers who really served to highlight our cause and inspire us all.

Following various complaints and queries, we decided it was necessary to address a number of points regarding our continuing occupation of Lower & Upper College Halls.

Q) Aren’t the occupiers disrupting student classes?

A) No lectures take place in Lower & Upper College Halls. We specifically chose this building for this reason.

Q) Do you support Hamas?

A) We categorically condemn all violence against civilians on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including Hamas. Our protest is directed at the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Q) Did the University cut off the water supply?

A) The University never cut off the water supply in this building.

Q) Won’t cutting the University’s contract with Eden Springs damage both British jobs and the economy?

A) It is unlikely that Eden Springs would shed jobs here in Britain as a result of the cancellation or non-renewal of 1 contract. Furthermore, once St Andrews’s contract with Eden Springs had ended the University would be free to sign a contract with another water company, thus the effect on the British economy would be marginal.

Q) Aren’t you all just a bunch of anarchists?

A) We’re not all a bunch of anarchists…

Q) Don’t these students get the irony of protesting Israel’s occupation in Gaza by occupying Lower College Hall?

A) Yeah, that’s kinda the point. Perhaps objectors don’t get the irony.

At half past four this afternoon we received this message from professor Noam Chomsky from MIT…

“I am very pleased to learn about the courageous and honorable actions of students in the University of St. Andrews.  These are particularly significant because of the crucial British contribution to the savage onslaught on Gaza, and on the occupied territories generally, second only to the decisive role of the United States — a disgrace for all of us.  I hope you have the greatest success in arousing public opinion and bringing these crimes to an end.

Noam Chomsky”

Dear fellow students of St Andrews University,

We would like to express our sincere thanks and deep appreciation for all your conscious efforts, endeavours and demands to support the right to education, justice and freedom in Palestine.

We wholeheartedly support your peaceful protests against the blanket bombing of Gaza in general and the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) in particular which suffered extensive destruction and damage to all its buildings, academic facilities. Additionally more than 20,000 students, whose families have been agonizing from the suffocating siege of Gaza, have lost some members of their families and many others have lost their houses.

With great respect and admiration, we have been following all activities taking place in 21 British universities. Your brave campaign has strengthened both our hope and will that we are not alone in this just battle against unprecedented blatant injustices and flagrant violation of human in Palestine.

We are absolutely proud of you all and proud of your solidarity and support campaign for the right to education in Palestine which gives us bright light in the heart of the military occupation darkness.

We wish you full success in your supportive campaign and in achieving all your sensible demands which show a high level of awareness and commitment to defend basic human rights in Gaza at a time of obvious media bias and hypocrisy of many governments.

We hope to cooperate with you soon to establish mutual academic cooperation between our academic institutions. In this regard, we confirm our high interest and strong willingness to provide you with any information, facts, plans, courses, etc related to your practical demands.

In solidarity with St Andrews university students in Occupation

The Islamic University of Gaza

Website:  http://www.iugaza.edu.ps/en/

We, the collected students of the St Andrews Solidarity with Palestine Campaign, are writing to express our outrage at the treatment of student occupiers by New York University and the violent handling of protesters by the NYPD.

Like thousands of students across Britain, we were appalled by the illegal bombing and land invasion of Gaza and the indiscriminate killing of civilians that resulted. At 25 British universities, students have occupied buildings in order to convince their Unis to both provide practical support for the people of Gaza in the face of the decimation of an entire educational infrastructure, and to cut ties with organisations linked to the Israeli military. Having occupied Lower & Upper College Halls here at St Andrews for nearly 3 days, we have so far been ‘politely’ asked on more than one occasion to leave the building; both times we have refused. We have been frustrated by some aspects of the relaying of our demands, but our frustration must be nothing compared to what the members of Take Back NYU! must be feeling after these events.

We are appalled by the use of night-sticks, pepper spray and tasers on the part of the police when dealing with demonstrators. What we have read suggests that the occupation has been largely peaceful and that the actions of the police were entirely unjustified. We are equally dismayed by the response of New York University to the protest. The students were exercising their democratic right to non-violent action, yet were dismissed by New York University as “dishonour[ing] NYU’s commitment to free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate, and legitimate forms of protest”. We believe it is disingenuous of Senior VP Lynne Brown to describe the protest as having ended peacefully, despite student testimonies to the contrary.

Given the risks that the protesters faced in carrying out this occupation, we would like to express our admiration for their perseverance. We believe that their case deserves to be heard, and will inform other British students involved in occupations. We will also be relaying our concerns to the NYU administration.

http://takebacknyu.com/

We also want to express our outrage at the responses of various universities to student actions, specifically:

Nottingham, where the university closed the occupied building, cut the power supply and then forcibly evicted students.

Sheffield Hallam, where the protest ended peacefully after the police were called to evict them. Several of them were later suspended.

Cambridge, where the students were threatened with suspension and eventually starved out.

In solidarity,
St Andrews Solidarity with Palestine Campaign