January 16, 2009

Occupation at the London School of Economics

These occupations are springing up all over the place. Following hot on the heels of SOAS students, students at the London School of Economics have occupied a lecture theatre calling on the university to divest from Israel and to condemn the attack on Gaza. Here's the full report from the new blog, LSE Solidarity with Gaza!

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 divests 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

The group want LSE Director 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 agression. The LSE must divest from BAE and other arms companeis immeditately.

The LSE also invests in arms comapnies 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 the 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.
And more to join....

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