Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cardiff Students Occupy University for Gaza

Cardiff Students Against War: Disarm Cardiff

Cardiff Students Occupy University for Gaza

Tuesday 24th February 12pm
Photos available on request
Contact 07801140192

Today Cardiff University students demanded their university immediately divest from the arms trade, by occupying the main building on campus. Students are currently locked in the Shandon lecture theatre and are refusing to leave until the university responds to their demands.

Cardiff University invests in companies that supplied Israel with weapons used in the recent attacks on Gaza. The occupation is in opposition to the University’s investment in the arms trade and to the atrocities committed in Gaza, where 1.4 million Palestinians are blockaded in a semi-autonomous apartheid state.

The occupation, the first of its kind in Wales, followed a Books not Bombs protest at midday where students brought along a book to signify their support for education, not war. Israel’s indiscriminate targeting of civilians has seen human rights abuses on a vast scale and many schools and universities there reduced to rubble. The students currently occupying are acting in solidarity with those whose education has been jeopardised by the crisis.

A student who is currently occupying the university said:

"I am ashamed that Cardiff University is helping fund the horrific violence in Gaza the consequence of which is the obliteration of education infrastructure in another, poorer part of the world. I don’t want the money I pay for my education contributing to the destruction of someone else’s. Our thoughts from the occupation are with the people of Gaza, who have lost so much.”

The action at Cardiff is the twenty-eighth UK student occupation to have taken place in the last few weeks. This unprecedented wave of student dissent has seen many universities capitulate to occupier’s demands and review their investments in arms companies.


Notes for Editors

1. If you would like to visit the occupation, further quotes of information please call 07801140192 to speak to students inside the occupation. Photos available on request.

2. For more details visit the Cardiff University occupation blog:http://occupiedcardiff.blogspot.com

3. Cardiff University has £209,000 invested in the arms trade including investments in BAE systems and General Electric. Both of these companies supplied Israel with weapons which have continually been used in attacks on and the siege of Gaza.

4. The Occupation demands include:
* Cardiff University to divest all shares from arms manufacturers and aerospace companies.

* Cardiff University to be twinned with a Gazan university, to show support for the Gazan people at this desperate time:
The twinning is to involve:
a) Scholarships for at least 5 Gazan students to study in Cardiff
b) Surplus books, computers and other education materials to be sent to the twinned university.

5. Israel’s attacks on Gaza have led to the deaths of over 1400 Palestinians, including over 400 children, and the injuring of over 5500. It is now believed that humanitarian and war crimes may have taken place including the indiscriminate targeting of civilians (including the bombing academic institutions), the obstruction and targeting of emergency medical staff and the use of white phosphorus as a weapon.
See the Disasters Emergency Committee website; www.dec.org.uk/

6. The UK arms industry exports billions of pounds worth of weapons every year, many of these to regimes with poor human rights records, to areas of conflict or to countries with huge development needs. The arms trade fuels war and undermines development, including education infrastructure.

7. The Disarm Cardiff campaign is a run by Cardiff Students Against War and is campaigning for University divestment from the arms trade. Students at Cardiff have been campaigning for divestment for three years.


  1. Dear All,

    Congratulations on your courageous action. There could not be a better time to raise your just aims. As a minor suggestion, perhaps you could consider adding an academic boycott of Israeli academia to your general campaign aims (although you may find it hard to add them to your immediate list of ocupation demands having already 'submitted' them, but you are obviously best placed to decide.

    In the mean time, I thought you might like to have a look at some of these videos and articles to remind you that you are not alone!

    In solidarity






    More here:




  2. Letter of Solidarity sent to all of your senior Vice-Chancellors:

    25th February 2008

    Dear Sir,
    I write to lend my support to the courageous and selfless actions a group of your students, who in occupying the premises of their own seat of learning have drawn attention to the plight of their fellow students and teachers - academics such as yourself, in fact - who are still suffering a brutal military occupation following the latest wave of direct military attacks upon their administrative and educational institutions. I refer, of course, to Palestine and in particular Gaza.

    Your student’s actions are particularly far sighted in view of the fact that those most directly affected live in a land thousands of miles from their own, yet they see that the perpetrators of these crimes are given succor and support by our own (Labour) government. They see also, that such crimes against humanity affect us all; that what happens to others today, if we stand aside and watch, can and will happen to us tomorrow – and then who will come to our aid?

    Your student’s actions are principled, because they understand that freedom and justice are indivisible; they recognize that a human life in the Middle East is as valuable as a human life in Britain or the US, and no propaganda can cloud their perception. What is more, your students have shown that they are prepared to sacrifice, prepared to act, and able to organize and lead.

    I too, have been appalled at the cynical manner in which Israel has used the memory of past (and abhorrent) genocide committed by the Nazis against European Slavs, Trade Unionists, Socialists, Communists, Progressives, and of course Jews, as “moral capital” to justify its own, equally abhorrent, ethnic cleansing in Palestine.

    That the latest Israeli crimes in Gaza have aroused the disgust of all with any semblance of principle, can be gauged by the fact that prominent leaders of the Jewish community, so long supporters of the Zionist project, are deserting Israel. See for example the speech of Sir Gerald Kaufmann MP, in which he declared the Israelis to be ‘Fascists’, acting toward Gaza ‘as the Nazis did toward the Warsaw Ghetto’. See also the principled letter of such Canadian academics as Michael and Osha Neumann (appended).

    That great American singer, actor, civil rights leader and working class activist Paul Robeson made a broadcast from a London rally in defense of Spain during the Spanish Civil War, in which he said, apropos the rising tide of Nazism:

    "Every artist, every scientist, must decide now where he stands. He has no alternative. There is no standing above the conflict on Olympian heights. There are no impartial observers. Through the destruction, in certain countries, of the greatest of man's literary heritage, through the propagation of false ideas of racial and national superiority, the artist, the scientist, the writer is challenged. The struggle invades the formerly cloistered halls of our universities and other seats of learning. The battlefront is everywhere. There is no sheltered rear."

    “And I saw, too, that the struggle for Negro [or Palestinian] rights was an inseparable part of the anti-fascist [anti-imperialist] struggle and I said:

    "The artist must elect to fight for Freedom or for Slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative.”

    The oppression of the Palestinians and Middle Eastern peoples (Iraq, Afghanistan) is such an issue. The same question confronts us again, and we all must choose: do we stand for slavery, or do we stand for freedom of the masses of working and oppressed people, in Palestine, the Middle East, and indeed Europe, and the wider world.

    Your students have shown their nobility of spirit in electing to fight for the freedom of the Palestinians. They have been courageous enough to act upon their conscience, and in so doing, they bring credit to your University. I hope that you will share their sense of justice, and exercise your judgment and leadership to assist them in their noble aims in whatever way you can. In particular, none of your students should face any punishment for their demonstration of solidarity, and their extremely reasonable list of aims should be met in full.
    Yours faithfully,

    Dr Ranjeet Brar BSc MBBS MRCS
    Vascular Surgical Research SpR
    St George's University of London

    Appended - Letter of Michael and Osha Neumann:

    Feb 20, 2009
    To the President of the State of Israel and the Director of the Yad Vashem Memorial
    Remove Our Grandmother's Name from the Wall at Yad Vashem
    Following the example of Jean-Moise Braitberg, we ask that our grandmother's name be removed from the wall at Yad Vashem. Her name is Gertrud Neumann.
    Your records state that she was born in Kattowitz on June 6, 1875 and died in Theresienstadt.
    M. Braitberg delivers his request with excellent reasons and eloquent personal testimony. His words are inspiring, but they give you – and those who stand with you - too much credit. I will instead be brief. Please take this as an expression of my disgust and contempt for your state and all it represents.
    Our grandmother was a victim of that very ideal of ethnic sovereignty in whose cause Israel has shed so much blood for so long. I was among the many Jews who thought nothing of embracing that ideal, despite the sufferings it had inflicted on our own race. It took thousands of Palestinian lives before, finally, I realized how foolish we had been.
    Our complicity was despicable. I do not believe that the Jewish people, in whose name you have committed so many crimes with such outrageous complacency, can ever rid itself of the shame you have brought upon us. Nazi propaganda, for all its calumnies, never disgraced and corrupted the Jews; you have succeeded in this. You haven't the courage to take responsibility for your own sadistic acts: with unparalleled insolence, you set yourself up as spokesmen for an entire race, as if our very existence endorsed your conduct. And you blacken our names not only by your acts, but by the lies, the coy evasions, the smirking arrogance and the infantile self-righteousness with which you embroider our history.
    In the end, you will give the Palestinians some scrap of a state. You will never pay for your crimes and you will continue to preen yourself, to bask in your illusions of moral ascendancy. But between now and the end, you will kill and kill and kill, gaining nothing by your spoilt-brat brutality. In life, our grandmother suffered enough. Stop making her a party to this horror in her death.

    Michael Neumann
    I join my brother, Michael Neumann, in asking that any reference to our grandmother be removed from Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial.
    I have been to this memorial. Its buildings, paved courtyards and plazas spread themselves authoritatively over many landscaped acres. It frames the Holocaust as a prelude to the creation of the state of Israel. It embalms memorabilia of the death camps and preserves them as national treasures. That treasure does not belong to Israel. It is a treasure only if it serves as a reminder never to permit any nation to claim an exemption for its chosen people from the bounds of morality and decency.
    Israel has twisted the Holocaust into an excuse for perpetrating more holocausts. It has spent the treasure of the world's sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust on a fruitless effort to shield itself from all criticism as it massacres and tortures Palestinians and suffocates them under a brutal occupation. I do not wish to have the memory of my grandmother enlisted in this misbegotten project.
    I grew up believing that Jews were that ethnic group whose historical mission was to transcend ethnicity in a united front against Fascism. To be Jewish was to be anti-Fascist. Israel long ago woke me from my dogmatic slumber about the immutable relationship of Jews to Fascists. It has engineered a merger between the image of Jewish torturers and war criminals and that of emaciated concentration camp victims. I find this merger obscene. I want no part of it. You have forfeited the right to be the custodian of my grandmother’s memory. I do not wish Yad Vashem to be her memorial.
    Osha Neumann