Friday, 6 February 2009

Manchester University In Occupation


Manchester University has been in continuous occupation since Wednesday afternoon. Students first occupied the main administration corridor on Wednesday then spread the occupation to include the university postal room on Thursday night. This Friday around 100 students moved the occupation to a lecture theatre in the Simon building.

The large and determined student movement for Palestine erupted because of outrage at the recent brutal slaughter unleashed on Gaza by Israel. This first took form in the protest movement that swept the country with demonstrations for Palestine on an unprecedented scale. Students at the University of Manchester threw themselves into this movement both mobilising for demonstrations around the country and playing a central part in organising solidarity with Gaza throughout Manchester.

Manchester students called an Emergency General Meeting of their Student Union to take place on February 4th. Students submitted a motion that called for the development of links between students in Manchester and Palestine; a condemnation of Israel’s recent attacks and the facilitation of fundraising to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis Israel has caused in Gaza.

This democratic meeting was sabotaged and ultimately destroyed by pro-Israeli Zionist students who were desperate to shield Israel from criticism and couldn’t stomach the thought of their university helping to stop the suffering in Palestine. These students employed both bureaucratic and thuggish tactics to stop the meeting from taking place. There are countless reports from students who wanted to get in but were physically prevented and the chair of the meeting refused to hear students’ complaints at the blockade and dissolved the meeting.

Around 300 pro-Palestinian students then held a demonstration that went to the main administrative corridor at the university. Deprived of the means of using the normal channels of speaking to management they decided to occupy the corridor (which holds the Vice Chancellor, Alan Gilbert’s office) until the university management dealt with their demands. The demands placed on the university were similar to those to be placed at the aborted General Meeting and can be found online at

The occupation of the corridor continued from Wednesday to Friday afternoon, spreading to the university’s postal room on Thursday. During this time the university management has repeatedly tried to intimidate students and denied them the freedom to move in and out of the occupied space. The occupation today of a lecture theatre in the Simon Building (an engineering building) by around 100 students shows that all of the university’s attempts at threatening and dividing us are a dead end strategy. The Vice Chancellor hasn’t once even discussed with us our demands so far.

We intend to keep up the occupation for as long as is necessary. The whole of the university is going to be under threat of occupation until our demands are met. We will change targets for the exact rooms we occupy at any time we see fit. Our organisation and level of support is such that we can and will do this. We will not open into negotiations with the university about our demands until people supporting us are allowed free access in and out of the Simon Building without harassment or intimidation from either police or security guards.

The support for our occupation both inside and outside Manchester has been astounding. We are calling a demonstration outside our building for 2pm tomorrow in support of the people of Palestine and the student occupation in Manchester. We invite all pro-Palestinians to come along and to publicise it.

Time 2pm
Location: Outside the Simon Building, Oxford Road, Manchester. Look for the Palestinian flags

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