Students launch Palestine solidarity encampment on University of York campus

Demonstrators demand that the university fully cuts ties with weapon manufacturers through grants and research funds


A Pro-Palestine solidarity encampment was set up today at the University of York in front of Heslington Hall.

Whilst the University of York announced its divestment from arms companies last month, students and staff are demanding that the institution fully cuts ties with weapon manufacturers in the form of research funds and grants and stands in solidarity with Palestine.

Taking place on the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, student protestors shared their demands and encouraged other students to join in a post on Instagram.

A post shared by The York Encampment group announced the beginning of the encampment.

Jo*, a student in the encampment, told The York Tab the significance of today and why the encampment was launched on this date: “So today is a really symbolic day it’s the 76th day of commemoration of Nakba, or the catastrophe where 750 thousand Palestinians were expelled from their land. It’s a historic day for York as we join the local student solidarity movement.”

Explaining why students had chosen to protest this way, she said: “We do this because we want our institution to fully cut ties with weapons manufacturers but also to support Palestinians actively. Whether that’s providing Palestinian scholarships, a statement naming and condemning genocide or also supporting our university alumnus Fadi Hania who has thankfully been evacuated.

“Either way, we need these demands to be met and that’s why the encampment has taken place.”

Whilst acknowledging the University of York’s divestment of investments in arms companies, students called for further action and are demanding that the institution now refuses grants and research funds from these companies.

“Our institution is complicit. Whilst we have divested from the arms trade, we continue to have extensive ties with weapons manufacturers. We call on our institution to cut all ties and to actively support Palestine.

The York Encampment student group said in a press release: “Although the University of York has announced divestment from companies that primarily invest in arms, the encampment claims that the university has not committed to cutting ties with the Israeli apartheid scheme.

“The encampment is one of over 30 at universities across the UK as well as more around the world, as students call upon their institutions to cut ties with Israeli arms companies and support Palestinians.”

The occupation in front of Heslington Hall  is one of many that has sprung up on university campuses across the country, including at Leeds, Newcastle, London, Edinburgh and Birmingham, where students have since been threatened with legal action.

The post continued: “We join over 140 solidarity encampments and the Palestine student movement globally. We are an autonomous group of students and staff, join us! We will be releasing information shortly about how to support us.”

The student organisation claims that the University of York is one of 82 universities which the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) say are “at risk for potential criminal liability over investments held in arms companies and Israeli settlements.”

Their demands were presented to the university, as well as shared online: “The encampment has a list of five demands to the University of York, which include cutting ties with weapons manufacturers; supporting Gaza’s educational institutions; providing scholarships for Palestinian students; a statement condemning the Palestinian genocide; and to help support Fadi Hania, a university of York alumni and Gazan citizen.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by @york.encampment

As reported in the press release, students at the encampment called for the university to meet their demands and take action: “We call on the university to meet our demands and to actively support Palestinian liberation, as a supposed institution for public good and University of Sanctuary we have a responsibility to support the people of Palestine.”

Another member of the encampment said: “It’s appalling that in this day and age, academic institutions fund and support a genocide that has seen the brutal death of thousands as well as the decimation of countless Universities in Palestine.”

The Press Liaison for the encampment told The York Tab that the university “hasn’t met our demands.”

They said: “We want to show solidarity and support for other universities across the country and across the world as well. The other encampments, particularly ones in the United States.”

The University of York has been approached for comment.

* Names have been changed to protect students’ privacy 

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