edinburghunioccupation

Live Updates

In Live Updates on February 13, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Post-Occupation Fundraiser!

Tuesday 17th March – Old St. Paul’s Church Hall directions

Help to make the occupation demands a reality by raising funds for the new network!

There will be… a ceilidh, followed by live music, followed by a DJ set. Drinks and food in return for donations. Networking galore and a pre-party set-up / general planning afternoon (details to follow)

Zine Submissions

We want feedback! Or in fact any reflections, reactions, responses to the occupation for Gaza of GST.

Articles / cartoons / poetry / photos / puzzles / theses / polemics etc. to preoccupied.ed@gmail.com

Monday, 00:31am

We, the occupying students have chosen to end the occupation on Monday morning but this is only the beginning of the movement!

More details to follow on this blog immnently…

Please read our final press release on the right side of this page.

In continuing solidarity,

The Occupying Students of Edinburgh University

Sunday 07:00pm

Hi Guys, Gals and Otherwise,

We are settling down for tonight ready to end the occupation in the morning.

Do come down tonight to lend us your support.

Solidarity,
The Occupying Students

Sunday 02:20pm

We are meeting today at 3pm to discuss the rest of the occupation, how we are planning to leave and a look back at what we have achieved, amongst other things.

Please come along and bring your ideas, suggestions, support and solidarity.

Sunday, 01:43pm

Message of support from the Islamic University of Gaza…

Dear fellow students of Edinburgh University,

We would like to express our sincere thanks and deep appreciation for all your conscious efforts, endeavours and demands to support the right to education, justice and freedom in Palestine.

We wholeheartedly support your peaceful protests against the blanket bombing of Gaza in general and the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) in particular which suffered extensive destruction and damage to all its buildings, academic facilities. Additionally more than 20,000 students, whose families have been agonizing from the suffocating siege of Gaza, have lost some members of their families and many others have lost their houses.

With great respect and admiration, we have been following all activities taking place in 19 British universities. Your brave campaign has strengthened both our hope and will that we are not alone in this just battle against unprecedented blatant injustices and flagrant violation of human in Palestine.

We are absolutely proud of you all and proud of your solidarity and support campaign for the right to education in Palestine which gives us bright light in the heart of the military occupation darkness.

We wish you full success in your supportive campaign and in achieving all your sensible demands which show a high level of awareness and commitment to defend basic human rights in Gaza at a time of obvious media bias and hypocrisy of many governments.

We hope to cooperate with you soon to establish mutual academic cooperation between our academic institutions. In this regard, we confirm our high interest and strong willingness to provide you with any information, facts, plans, courses, etc related to your practical demands.

In solidarity with Edinburgh university students in Occupation

Rifat Rustom
Vice President for External Relations & IT
Proffessor of Civil Engineering

Saturday, 07:19pm

It’s been a fantastic 4th day here inside and outside George Square Lecture Theatre. After a slow morning we set up for our first teach-in. Tony Gorman of the Middle East department came to talk to the occupying students and passers-by about the history of Gaza preceding the recent conflict. At the same time we had a visit from Kathy Jenkins, another university lecturer, who participated in the UC Berkeley anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s.

At the same time, non-university supporters of the sit-in gathered outside GST and began singing solidarity songs for Gaza. We then had various speakers, including a Palestinian recently arrived from Gaza and several occupation participants, who communicated the university’s latest statement to the crowd.

30 odd students then reconvened upstairs with Tony, to continue discussing Palestinian/Israeli issues and were joined by Maurice Naftalin, the head of Scottish Jews for Just Peace. With such a rich variety of perspectives, some very insightful and thought-provoking statements were made and challenged. At that moment, this space came into its own. A dialogue was formed that so rarely has a platform to exist elsewhere but is so vital.

We’d like to collectively say a massive thank you to Tony, Kathy, Maurice, the Scottish PSC, the wonderful choir and everyone else who contributed to the day!

During the afternoon an email from Norman Finkelstein arrived, supporting our efforts and wishing us a positive conclusion. Everyone was excited as this proves how far our message, and that of all the student occupations, has traveled. Furthermore, Ilan Pappe, author of ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’, responded positively to an invitation to speak in the lecture series we have agreed with the university administration as a result of our demands. Some time later still, we were elated to hear from Noam Chomsky. He too commended our efforts and explained what he sees as the importance of such actions in raising the awareness of the Palestinian situation.

We have taped a white sheet to the wall and using a donated projector, are about the show the documentary ‘Occupation 101′. It’s late but as ever everyone is welcome. Or please come along tomorrow for workshops and to contribute to the group meeting. In solidarity.

Saturday, 4:30pm

We are rallying now, come and join us. Music, food, talks, discussions. Outside George Square Lecture Theatre right now.

Get down here, bring your friends, bring your ideas, bring our support!

Solidarity!

Saturday, 01:16pm

Today’s Events…

02:00pm – Teach-in with Edinburgh University staff

04:00pm – Peaceful rally outside George Square Lecture Theatre – Speakers from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and more

06:00pm – Consensus decision making/meeting facilitation workshop – very useful for all direct action events and general group working

Saturday, 02:27am

Solidarity from the great Norman G. Finkelstein

No more peace process: Time for an intifada
Edinburgh University Student Occupation
02.12.2009

Saturday, 01:29am

“I admire the dignity and idealism of their action in occupying the George Square Lecture Theatre. It isn’t easy to keep issues like the atrocities in Gaza in the forefront of public attention when the news agenda has gone elsewhere. I think the Edinburgh students’ conduct has been impeccable and that the demands are reasonable and I hope and believe that Edinburgh University will negotiate on them in good faith”.

Iain Macwhirter
Newly elected Rector of Edinburgh University and Journalist

Cheers!

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Posting a comment will reveal your email address to the administrators of this blog, i.e. the occupying students. While we will NEVER knowingly publish or distribute these details (sincere apologies for past oversights), we thought it only fair to let you know

Friday, 06:19pm

Local Edinburgh maestros WHITE HEATH playing a free gig outside George Square Lecture Theatre NOW!

MEETING TONIGHT @ 7PM
(Friday)

We will be discussing important issues such as our strategy for the weekend, and the University response from the meeting earlier. Please come along and lend your support, ideas and energy!

Friday, 12:15pm

We learned recently that Edinburgh University have instructed security staff to be very strict on who can enter the building. A member of the occupying force from Strathclyde University came this morning to give us a talk but was turned away at the door by security staff.

As I write, a team of students is meeting with University staff to discuss our response to the University’s reply to our demands. We will update here when we hear back from them.

There will be a large meeting at some point this afternoon, time to be announced here as soon as it is arranged.

Friday, 09:00am

This morning an Eden Springs delivery van arrived outside GST. This building has countless taps and houses no permanent staff, who of course must have access to drinking water at work, so the delivery of bottled water is completely illogical. There is a general feeling amongst the occupying students this could have been a provocation, although no blame for this is being apportioned to a particular party.

Besides, when a pair of occupiers went to the front door to see what was happening the following happened…

Student, as the delivery man approached with a pallet of water, “Is that coming in here?”

Friendly security man “No”

They kept the door closed and the Eden Springs man was turned away, along with his water, funded by an illegal company operating on stolen Syrian land.

Friday, 01:59am

A huge thank you to Alisdair for these stunning images!

Thursday, 11:50pm (and later)

Day 2 run-down… The first lecture of the day ran as normal with positive feedback from the lecturer and students. Despite this we were dismayed to learn disruption had occurred due to the university administration’s decision to relocate all subsequent lectures. The staff involved had expressed willingness to continue as normal and acknowledged the occupying students’ position. For this we would like to give a collective thanks. The university secretary has since stated, in writing, that the university does not currently need to pursue disciplinary action due to the general attitude of the occupying students and “the absence of disruption to teaching”.

Not to be disheartened, the group, with input from fellow students visiting throughout the day, drew up a schedule of events to spread awareness and make best use of the space. With great care for the equipment of the theatre we tried to show a documentary. University security arrived soon after to dismantle the media desk, depriving us of the ability to show educational and intellectually valid films in a manner that does not disrupt the lecture schedule.

The day culminated in a rally outside GST, at which students involved in the Glasgow and Strathclyde University occupations spoke. We would like to thank these students and everyone else who spoke, as well as who came to show their solidarity with Gaza through tangible support for the Edinburgh Student sit-in. Also, a huge thank you to the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign for providing such a visible and productive presence!

The Edinburgh Central Mosque heroically donated loads of food for a second night running (!) after which the occupying group settled down to discuss the university’s latest response to the demands. This is a three page document, with many interesting points, and as a testament to our commitment to this cause we are still agreeing on a consensus response several hours later.

Roll on day 3. In solidarity with Gaza – we are here for you.

Thursday, 10.30am
After a peaceful night, we’re still going strong. The University asked us to leave to make way for lectures, but we decided that it was important that we stay within the lecture theatre, and we didn’t think that this was incompatible. Several lectures have been moved by the University, despite our assertions that we wouldn’t disrupt them. One lecture was held this morning without delay or disruption (some of us sat in the audience and listened), and despite positive feedback from the lecturer and students, we regret to announce that the university has moved the rest of today’s lectures.

BUT the space here is yours… Come and join us for food, tea, coffee, and a chat about the student occupation and the wider context of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

There are lecture 10-1 and 4-5, and we have a provisional schedule of stuff going on for the rest of the day:

1-2pm - Film: Occupation 101. And lunch!

2pm- 2:30- Informal public talk/discussion on social movements ( guest lecturer from Edin Uni)

2:40-3:40pm- Planning meeting (all welcome!)

4-5pm – Direct action workshop: come and learn tactics for effective protest

5-5.45pm – “On the poverty of student life” – the growing global student movement and how we can be – and are – part of it, with plenty of time for discussion.

6-7pm – Public Discussion Forum

7-8pm – Dinner. Please join us!

8-9pm – Planning meeting (all welcome)

9-10.30pm – Open mike for speakers, poets, musicians, and space to have a chat and chill out.

10.30pm – Film about Palestine (which one TBC!)

Wednesday, 10:20pm

GAZA RALLY – THURSDAY MORNING!

Please come down at 10am for a Student Sit-in for Gaza Solidarity rally outside George Square Lecture Theatre! There will be speakers, representatives from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other Scottish university occupations, placards and banners to share. We hope to create a huge wave of positive feeling, noise and awareness for Gaza through this peaceful event, in conjunction with the sit-in itself. This is your space! USE IT!

Wednesday, 8pm
Messages of Support from Across the World

Members of the University and College Union National Executive and Scottish Executive came to visit to pass on greetings and solidarity (see photo!). We’ve also had messages of support from occupations in Dundee Uni and Glasgow Uni (who are meeting their principal as we speak), as well as wishes from Sheffield Uni, Cambridge Uni, Sthrathclyde Uni, the Isle of Barra, South Africa, ISM Scotland and Glasgow.

Wednesday, 6.30pm
Dinner!

The occupation has settled in thanks to wonderful food courtesy of the Mosque Kitchen and the palestinian café in Stockbridge.

Wednesday, 5pm
What the Uni says

The University has met with us and say that, in principal, they would be willing to respond to our demands on aid and education. We won’t leave until we hear action on all our demands.

Wednesday, 3pm
The Occupation has been Freed!

The University has agreed to let matriculated students into the occupation – so come down and join us! We have a number of events planned for the day to come including films and speakers (which will be announced soon), there is space to study and learn, and we want to encourage people to use the space creatively. Spread the word and join us – Edinburgh is taking back the University at George Square Lecture Theatre!

Wednesday, 12pm
Statement of Support From Gaza

My name is Hanan Hamad, a Palestinian student studying English at Al-Aqsa University in the Gaza strip.

As Gazan students, my friends and I have suffered a lot during the previous years, especially from the unjust siege which is continued up to now. Many Gazan students were prevented from traveling abroad to further their studies because of the unjustified closure of all crossings in and out of Gaza. There are thousands of Gazan students who have lost scolarships and university placements in the past two years because they are trapped in Gaza and are prohibited from travelling abroad. These students’ dreams of receiving Master and PHD degrees were destroyed and I know that you as students are aware of how frustrating it is not to be able to achieve your academic dreams and ambitions. We view education not only as a personal dream, but also as a way to support our people and struggle. The mechanisms of the Occupation try to destroy our ability to have a functioning, proud, educated and capable society and we are determined to resist this through attaining all of our rights- including our right to education.

Our professors also suffer from this imposed siege- unable to travel in order to participate in different international conferences and debates. We remained steadfast throughout the oppression of the siege and challenged all these restrictions by trying to gain knowledge from the available poor sources- even textbooks and paper are banned from entering Gaza, the economy has been destroyed and many of our parents face unemployment and have to struggle and sacrifice just to pay our fees- but the recent Israeli massacres and attack on Gaza have made conditions much worse.

Many of our friends who study with us were killed during the brutal war. They were ordinary young men and women trying to live normal lives , to learn and study to improve lives and that of their peoples’, to be of service to their people and struggle, but the Israeli killing machine never allowed them to do so. Their empty desks in our classrooms and lecture halls cause us pain and are a constant reminder of how cheap our blood and lives are to the Israelis.

Most of Gaza’s universities including mine were partially destroyed by Israeli shelling. My best friend Hiba was made homeless when Israeli invasion forces destroyed her house completely. Her books, research papers, references, and computer were destroyed, burned and lost under the rubble of her home, days before she was supposed to take her final graduation exams. Countless other stories just like Hiba’s are buried under the rubble of Gaza.

What we as Palestinian students need at the moment is our fellow students’ support and solidarity all over the world. We deeply appreciate your taking a position to support us and express your solidarity. It shows us that we are not alone and breaks the isolation we often feel when we see the silence of the world’s governments as we our friends and families are killed. We ask for students around the world to pressure and take action and mobilise for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions and to start campaigns of non-violent actions and resistance to pressure your universities to start academic and cultural boycotts in order to isolate apartheid Israeli policies.

We wish you luck and strength in your protests today and wish that we could join you there and speak face to face. We are thinking of you all today and are proud of your positions and solidarity. We hope these actions spread and that other students join you, and us, in this struggle.

Photos

In Photos on February 11, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Lights

Floor

Guitar

Eden Springs comes to visit

Chatting

Banner

Banner

Warm Inside

Thursday Morning Snow

UCU Members Join

The View from Outside

Chatter

The Occupation Begins

Decision Making

Music

Press Release – End of Occupation

In Demands on February 11, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Final Press Release – Edinburgh University Student Occupation for Gaza

At 8:45 on the morning of Monday 16/02/2009 the student occupation of George Square Lecture Theatre came to an end.

We, the occupying students have secured the following…

•    A complete end to Eden Springs bottled water on campus by the start of the next academic year (2009/10).

•    An opportunity to bring our case regarding the university’s unethical investments directly to the University Court.

•    Scholarships for 5 Palestinian students in Gaza to study at Edinburgh University, with consideration for fee waivers, reduced accommodation fees, travel allowances and visa support.

•    A collaboration between the university management, student body and an NGO to collect various materials for shipping to Gaza and to fundraise for the implementation of this.

•    A lecture and debate series, involving university staff and guest speakers, on various subjects relating to the Palestine/Israel conflict. There has already been interest in this from prominent scholars Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky.

We feel that this is only the beginning of the movement to end the university’s role in the occupation and oppression of Palestine by the Israeli government and military. There remain serious issues to which the university’s response was completely inadequate, including the active role of arms and defence companies in university research and on-campus recruitment.

The occupation also provided a place to stage educational events, encouraging active engagement and participation about the issues in question. Highlights included a discussion on the ongoing occupation of Palestine, with the participation of the President of Scottish Jews for a Just Peace and a workshop on ‘direct action’ with ways of defusing confrontational situations. As the week progressed, we at times numbered over 60 students, with a total of several hundred passing through the theatre doors.

We feel it’s important to emphasize that the student occupation should be understood not simply as a tactic or a bargaining chip in getting our demands. Within the space that we took control of, we used consensus decision making to initiate a radically non-hierarchical way of making collective decisions. At it’s best, the occupation provided a space for a process far more democratic than what conventional university structures are able to achieve. The changes we want to see will be attained through our direct action but also by creating such spaces, and expanding them indefinitely.

Two key outcomes of the occupation…
•    A planned open forum for reflection and discussion on the student occupation and the university’s reaction in the context of the Gaza conflict.

•    An online network to consolidate the occupation group, welcome all who wish to be involved in future action and to take the movement forward immediately and effectively.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to the countless groups and individuals who provided us with material and moral support.

Lastly, we wish to assure Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank that we will struggle alongside them in solidarity until such time as they are a free and sovereign people.

Watch this space for imminent mailing list, website and networking details for future action… This is only the beginning!

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