Newcastle University students set up encampment on campus in protest over situation in Gaza

Demonstrators stated they ‘will maintain our encampment until our demands have been met’


Newcastle University student activists have set up encampment on main campus.

Organised by Newcastle Apartheid off Campus, the demonstration is occupying the space opposite the Students’ Union building after students arrived at the site at 8am yesterday, Wednesday 1st May.

They join students across the UK who have launched similar encampments on university campuses, including Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Warwick, Swansea, Bristol and Goldsmiths, University of London.

The protests come after large demonstrations across US campuses, most notably at Columbia University in New York.

The encampment protest is the largest in the UK at present, but Newcastle Apartheid off Campus says they “will be joined by other universities in the coming days.”

The protestors say they want the university to divest from Israel, claiming that Newcastle University has links with both Leonardo S.p.A and Pearson Engineering.

In a statement, Newcastle Apartheid off Campus said: “Newcastle University has signed a partnership with Leonardo S.p.A; a weapons manufacturer responsible for producing the laser targeting system for the IDF’s F-35 fighter jets that are used to indiscriminately bomb Gaza.

“When students have raised this connection before in regular meetings and open letters with Newcastle University’s vice-chancellor Chris Day, he admitted that ‘It is quite clear … that Leonardo sell stuff that they make [weapons] to Israel’.

“Despite this, the university has invited Leonardo onto it’s jointly developed Helix site and have “research projects in the pipeline” with them.

“…It is clear that the university has not listened to students’ concerns. In fact, by inviting Pearson Engineering (owned by the Israeli government’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems) to our careers fair the university has shown it is unwilling to end ties with companies that are enabling violations of international law.”

A Newcastle University spokesperson said: “We respect the right to peaceful protests and freedom of speech and are engaging with protestors.

“We are committed to our core values, which include Social and Environmental Justice; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion; and we have been deeply affected by the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine.

“Working with industry partners is critical in helping us to leverage our world-class research, to advance science and to support the UK’s development through high-value employment and skills. Any proposals for defence and security collaborations are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The university does not invest in companies making armaments.”

The demonstrators have called on supporters for donations, such as food, drink and hygiene products. Local businesses have since showed their support through food donations.

In a statement, the organisation explained that they have activities planned for student protestors in the encampment throughout the incoming weeks: “We have an exciting programme of events for the student and wider community over the next few weeks and will maintain our encampment until our demands have been met. We are also willing to escalate our actions further in the future if the university does not meet our demands.”

Leonardo S.p.A. and Pearson Engineering were approached for comment.

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