Brum IMC film: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/02/422700.html
Despite the circumstances in which the occupation ended the occupiers still secured a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor and on Thursday 22nd January met with him to discuss their demands from the occupation. The meeting was quite unproductive and resulted in effectively no commitments at all from the university, leaving the occupiers to consider a next move.
The occupation was followed by a large and successful protest (see: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/01/419829.html), also on the 22nd January, organised by a coalition of student societies, but the event went un/misreported by university media, most notably the widely read ‘Redbrick’ studet newspaper. In an article entitled ‘Iron Curtain’ in the paper two weeks later, a Redbrick journalist spilled the beans on University and Guild of Students (the student union at Birmingham – who have a veto on content) censorship of reporting of the Gaza-related events. An exchange of letters published in the paper has also slowly enabled news of the week of action to get out to Birmingham students.
At a meeting of Guild council on Thursday 19th February the Palestinian society finally managed to submit the motions relating to the Gaza crisis which they were prevented from tabling at the January meeting by Guild officers. However, during the meeting a coalition of zionists and Guild officers conspired to amend the motion so that it was converted into one preventing all further debate and discussion of Palestine in the council in the future (until it expires or is overturned in a future meeting). They then carried the vote by a small majority, once again shutting down all debate on the Palestinian issue in the union.
Despite these perceived setbacks, the occupation and protests have inspired people and united many groups on campus behind a common cause and are provoking a long -awaited response to suppression of political activity by the university and student union on this and other matters. Supporters of human rights and the self-determination of the Palestinian people at the University of Birmingham will continue to organise despite the complete contempt shown towards them by their union and university authorities and the criminalisation of their activities by the police. The struggle continues!
Post Occupation Statement
After successfully occupying room LR4 in the Arts Building for 12 hours yesterday those occupying were forced to leave the room at about 9pm last night due to the exceptionally heavy handed approach taken by the University of Birmingham. The University of Birmingham threatened to remove the occupants with force forewarning them that they would be in “breach of the peace” if they did not leave the building. During negotiations of our demands the entrance to the room was then compromised by security guards and police making it impossible to maintain a secure hold on the room. After accepting a meeting with the Vice Chancellor to discuss the demands the occupants finally left chanting “FREE FREE Palestine”. Outside the building there were 2 police vans and numerous police cars, proving that The University of Birmingham was prepared to use such an extreme level of force against its students conducting a peaceful protest.
The University clearly do not want any form of activist student movement on campus, but the support from students and other members of the University yesterday shows that this is not the end of the campaign. It is crucial to remain in solidarity with the cause and keep fighting until the demands are met.
The meeting with the Vice Chancellor will be held on Thursday 22nd January at 9.45 am until 10.15 am, please listen out for further developments on the demands and future actions [to be reported above].
STUDENTS FOR A FREE PALESTINE!
This is a repost from https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/birmingham/2009/01/419775.html .
22 January 2009: ISM London issues declaration supporting student occupations
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE WIDELY
ISM London offers support and solidarity to the numerous student occupations and sit-ins around the UK in recent weeks. This response to the most recent Israeli onslaught on Gaza has been one of the most important initiatives in the movement. Generating pressure on our higher education establishments to take a stand against Israel and the war crimes it commits is vital. We stand in solidarity with the many Palestinians, students, activists, academics and members of the public who are now being more and more vocal about the boycott of Israel as a means of both exerting international pressure on the Israeli apartheid system, and standing in solidarity with the resistant Palestinian people.
ISM activists all around the UK are available to speak about their experiences on the ground in Palestine and are contactable via ISM London ( i…@ism-london.org.uk). An ISM speaker will be at the Warwick sit-in tonight. For those interested in visiting Palestine, we can also organise training events around the UK if you can organise a group large enough (usually 10 or 15). Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Current or recent UK student occupations we know of:
* SOAS: http://soassolidarity4gaza.blogspot.com
* LSE: http://lseoccupation.blogspot.com
* Kings: http://kcloccupation.blogspot.com
* Warwick: http://warwicksolidaritysitin.wordpress.com
* Essex: http://www.visitpalestine.asia/page.cfm/id/98207
* Birmingham: http://birminghamoccupation.wordpress.com
* Sussex: http://sussexoccupation.blogspot.com
* NEW TODAY: Bodleian building, Oxford: http://occupiedoxford.wordpress.com/
ISM London wesbsite: http://www.ism-london.org.uk
Main ISM website, with the latest from Gaza: http://www.palsolidarity.org
More info on the boycott campaign:
We would like to express our solidarity to all students occupying in solidarity with Gaza. As of now, 11 universities in the UK have seen or are currently under occupation (including, of course, our own). We have provided as many links as we can on the right to the other occupations and are sending messages of support. Who says student activism is dead?!
The occupation ended at around 9pm on Tuesday night after 12 hours in. At 7pm on Tuesday the university and West Midlands police colluded together, as negotiations with the university continued, to lay siege to the occupation. They closed the building down at 7pm (it usually shuts 9-10pm) and started kicking people out. No exceptions were made for staff or visitors and their actions prevented several teaching and other activities taking place in the building that evening. From this point on they (tried to) prevent us from getting water and did not allow people to bring in food from outside. We were visited by the Registrar and the Head of the College of Arts and Law in this time who offered us a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor to discuss our demands in exchange for leaving the building. Whilst these discussions took place the police and security staff increasingly made their presence felt outside the room and after our spokesperson returned from the lobby from a third round of negotiations a security guard pulled the door open and prevented us from closing it. At this point a stand off began as we blockaded the open door to the room with around 15 security and police hanging around outside. A long discussion ensued about what to do next which concluded in a vote to accept the offer in light of the situation and the apparent determination of the university and police to remove us by force. This was highlighted on our way off campus by the presence of two paddy wagons with around 30 police in tactical gear who continued to harass us for another half hour. This event raises obvious questions about the stance of the university towards peaceful protest and the lawfulness of the police’s involvement, who were always on hand during the day to offer their unwanted (and inappropriate?) political opinions and ‘mediation’, an issue which will be addressed in an article in the coming weeks.
So we left, to chants of ‘free free palestine’, to return to fight another day. It was certainly an amazing 12 hours and we had an enormous amount of support (thanks especially to all the Zionists who turned up – you were a non-stop source of entertainment). I think it has really started something at Birmingham (which certainly carried on today with the ‘official’ protest on campus) . The fight for justice continues.
The students who occupied Arts LR4
So…. The University come back…. Wand this time they say the following
-They are not prepared to condemn the actions of Isreal as outlined in demand number 1.
-They are prepared to discuss the Birmingham-Ramallah Twinning Initiative. However, this could not be guarenteed in writing (Demand number 2)
-They are prepared to discuss the support for Palestinian students as outlined in deman Number 6.
…. AND WE HAVE A STAND OFF…..