LSE STUDENTS SECOND UNIVERSITY TO HOLD OCCUPATION WITH MORE UNIVERSITIES ABOUT TO JOIN
Over forty pro Palestine students have occupied a lecture theatre at the London School of Economics to demand that the university releases a statement condemning the attack on Gaza and that it divest from arms companies that supply the Israeli military.
Students entered the Old Theatre and sat down on the stage after the Students’ Union passed a motion in support of their demands. A lecture continued as scheduled with the students on the stage.
SOAS ended their three day occupation last night after all but one of their demands were met. Students at other campuses are planning similar actions. [Ed note: one day after this press release, 50 Essex university students started an occupation]
The group want LSE Director Howard Davies to issue a statement condemning the Israeli violence on Gaza.
“LSE is an institution founded on the Fabian values that were the precursor of the human rights agenda of modern politics. LSE must restate those values and condemn state criminality. It is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of humanity,” a spokesperson said.
The group are also demanding that LSE divests from arms firm BAE Systems, an arms company who supply the Israeli military.
“The fact that LSE invests in BAE Systems means that it is directly profiting from the collective punishment of the Gazan people. Our University will remain tainted for as long as it is funded by unlawful military aggression. The LSE must divest from BAE and other arms companies immediately.
The LSE also invests in arms companies Boeing, Rolls Royce and BHP Billiton, a firm the School says supplies nuclear material for warheads.
They have also issued several demands related to providing material support for Palestinian students including providing 5 fully paid scholarships for Palestinian students, books and computers for Palestinian universities and facilitation for fund-raising activities.
Over 250 students and academics wrote to Director Howard Davies at the beginning of the year to demand a statement and other demands similar to those being demanded by the occupation. Davies agreed to waiver application fees for students affected by the crisis but refused to issue a condemnatory statement, pledge further material assistance or support divestment from arms firms.
Davies claimed that the School does not take positions on “political issues”. This is in stark contrast to an overtly political statement issued by Davies in May 2007 condemning a UCU (University and College Union) resolution concerning the Israeli Occupation, and previous condemnations by LSE of South African Apartheid and the Tiananmen Square massacre in the 1980’s.
DEMANDS IN FULL
The LSE should release a statement condemning the Israeli attack on Gaza and demanding a ceasefire. LSE is an institution founded on the Fabian values that were the precursor of the human rights agenda of modern politics. LSE must restate those values and condemn state criminality. It is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of humanity. A statement condemning Israeli violence is fully in keeping with the founding principles of our university.
The LSE currently holds investments in BAE Systems, a firm that the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (caat.org.uk) states provides weapons and ammunition for the Israeli military. This means that our university is being directly funded by the Israeli war on Gaza. The LSE must divest from BAE immediately.
3) 5 fully paid scholarships for Palestinian students.
At a University as diverse and international as LSE, Palestinian students are grossly underrepresented in the student body when compared to other groups.
4) Fundraising day.
The LSE administration should facilitate a ‘fundraising day’ where buckets will be in every lecture and seminar to collect money for the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians
5) Books and Computers.
The LSE has a £26 million surplus and is lucky enough to be able to regularly invest in new equipment. Any computers or books due to be got rid of at the end of Lent and Summer terms should be donated to the University and to schools that have been bombed in Gaza.
LSE has a proud history of student activism. Students united to campaign against apartheid, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and more recently around divestment from the arms trade. All students have a democratic right to peaceful protest and students should not be prevented from expressing their opinions by fear of reprisals.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1) The identity of other universities planning to hold occupations is being kept secret. For more information please contact lseoccupation [at] googlemail.com
2)The group have set up a group with frequent updates: http://lseoccupation.blogspot.com
3) For more information about the SOAS protest, please go to http://soassolidarity4gaza.blogspot.com/
4) The LSE occupation follows an hour after students voted in a Union General Meeting to condemn the Israeli attacks on Gaza and recognise the oppression Palestinians have been living in.