Wednesday, 14 April 2010
9 April 2010
We write to you as academics and student representatives of all academic institutions in the besieged Gaza Strip.
We support and salute your willingness to suffer the consequences that come with demonstrating in a ‘free’ Western country against the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against us, the Palestinians of Gaza, crimes that the entire world witnessed. Crimes perpetrated when the Israeli forces, the fourth most powerful military machine in the world, bolstered yearly by £27.5 million of UK arms supplies, killed an estimated 1,440 people - more than 430 children - and injured 5,500 others.
According to citizens of the UK living here in Gaza, the prison terms handed to the demonstrators - mainly British Muslim young men - appear to be the norm, befitting the lower standards Muslim men and women are treated to by the UK state apparatus. We believe that this norm is vile, and scandalous, in a country that claims to be democratic and secular, a country that claims not to discriminate against its citizens according to ethnic background. This is clear racism! Taking previous precedents as a guideline, such sentences were many times greater than the normal punishments, not to mention the violent attacks by the Metropolitan Police Force that same evening.
And how typical of the UK establishment and police to overlook what it is these men and women were so angry about - a massive act of bombing and mass murder of our civilian population, sealed in the Gaza concentration camp, 1.5 million people crushed by a hermetic siege, and with the direct use of equipment supplied by Britain, as a House of Commons report on strategic exports controls recently admitted. And why? Because, like you, we didn't fit the right "ethno-religious grouping" for those who wield the whips and batons in the region. The hegemonic system controlling our daily life is one of apartheid , described as such by many South African anti-apartheid heroes, including Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
When will the world’s countries act according to the basic premise that people should be treated equally, regardless of their origin, ethnicity or colour? How many Declarations of Human Rights, Geneva Conventions, UN resolutions and continuous Western rhetoric of freedom for all will we hear before peoples such as the Palestinians can live in their homes without fear of demolitions, on their land with fear of expulsion with no right of return, in their cities without fear of imprisonments without charge, in their villages without fear of the continuous confiscation of arable land and clean water supply? Here in Gaza, how much longer shall we, as Palestinians, exist without the prospect of leaving, or returning to, a strip of land the size of your Isle of Wight, without facing sporadic acts of collective punishment such as the one in late 2008 when 430 of our children were killed with no place to run or shelter, without safety even inside United Nations schools or aid depots? How many more people will suffer from still-born and deformed children, since Israel can now drop white phosphorous around the Gaza Strip with no fear of international outrage? We wonder why it is that in our global justice system dropping white phosphorous on children goes unpunished but demonstrating against barbarity in the capital of a free Western country merits one to two years of imprisonment. Where is the outcry?
We will continue to show our support for those who stood up for our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, here in Gaza, and we call on others to do so by joining the UK Gaza Demonstrators Support Campaign. We also call on the UK and international civil society movements and grassroots organizations, to stand up against Israeli Apartheid just as you did against the South African regime. The Israeli regime is also based on racial segregation and discrimination - and is similarly a suppurating wound on the conscience of humanity—one that demands treatment.
As our teachers and professors used to tell us, there was no negotiation with Apartheid South Africa. There was only one word: BOYCOTT. To you brave protesters against Israel’s mass murder and apartheid policies, you have now joined many other Palestinians and South Africans who suffered a similar fate for standing on the right side of history before many others had begun to do so. We call on civil society around the world to enforce and accelerate the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement of Israel's apartheid regime, saying no to the Israeli siege, no to genocide with impunity, no to apartheid and no to severe punishment of the people of the world who demonstrate against these crimes, while the international community remains, at best, indifferent. At worst, in callous repose.
Palestinian Students' Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
University Teachers Association in Palestine
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Never mind Copenhagen, an environmental catastrophe is going on right now – contaminated water is poisoning babies in Gaza
Taken from Victoria Brittain's article in the Guardian, Wednesday, Dec 9th, 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/dec/09/gaza-children-palestinian-babies
Among all the complex and long-term solutions being sought in Copenhagen for averting environmental catastrophe across the world, there is one place where the catastrophe has already happened, but could be immediately ameliorated with one simple political act.
In Gaza there is now no uncontaminated water; of the 40,000 or so newborn babies, at least half are at immediate risk of nitrate poisoning – incidence of "blue baby syndrome", methaemoglobinaemia, is exceptionally high; an unprecedented number of people have been exposed to nitrate poisoning over 10 years; in some places the nitrate content in water is 300 times World Health Organisation standards; the agricultural economy is dying from the contamination and salinated water; the underground aquifer is stressed to the point of collapse; and sewage and waste water flows into public spaces and the aquifer.
The blockade of Gaza has gone on for nearly four years, and the vital water and sanitation infrastructure went past creaking to virtual collapse during the three-week assault on the territory almost a year ago.
What would it take to start the two UN sewerage repair projects approved by Israel; a UN water and sanitation project, not yet approved; and two more UN internal sewage networks, not yet approved? Right now just one corner of the blockade could be lifted for these building materials and equipment to enter Gaza, to let water works begin and to give infant lives a chance. Just one telephone call from the Israeli defence ministry could do it – an early Christmas present to the UN staff on the ground who have been ready to act for months and have grown desperate on this front, as on so many others.
Earlier this year, just one question face to face to the Israeli government, from Senator John Kerry after he visited Gaza, allowed pasta into Gaza. Who from Europe or the US will ask the Israeli defence minister the face-to-face question for the blue babies? Sarah Brown, the British prime minister's wife, would be the perfect candidate – an independent person who has the ear of the powerful, a mother who knows something about grief for babies. And she could be accompanied by Lord Mandelson in case there was any bullying.
The science on all this is unchallenged. Last September a UN report spelled it out in stark detail, including the regional implications for Israel and Egypt if the shared aquifer is not "rested" and alternative water sources found. The United Nations Environment Programme estimated that $1.5bn could be needed over 20 years to restore the aquifer, including the establishment of desalination plants to take the pressure off the underground water supplies.
Gaza's huge pale sandy beaches used to be society's playground and reassurance of happiness and normality, with families picnicking, horses exercising, fishermen mending their nets, children swimming and boys exercising in the early morning, but these days they are mainly empty, and not just because it is winter. Between 50m and 60m litres of untreated sewage have flowed into the Mediterranean every day this year since the end of the Israeli invasion in January, the sea smells bad and few fish are available in the three nautical mile area Palestinians are allowed in. This resource seems as ruined as the rubble of Gaza's parliament and ministries.
A visitor to Gaza could miss this underground disaster, seeing what the surreal economy of the tunnels from Egypt has brought in: a chic new coffee house, with new furniture and prints on the wall, which would not be out of place in Piccadilly, fish from Oman for restaurants, fat sheep and goats for the Eid feast, new cars reassembled after being cut into four, huge motorbikes straight out of Easy Rider, bustling markets full of foods, clothes, fridges, washing machines, pharmaceuticals, some brought in to order, and much more. Some people are getting very rich on both sides of the Rafah border.
But the tunnels are a small slice of the reality. "We have run out of words to describe how bad it is here," says John Ging, director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza. Ging heads a team of 10,000 mainly Palestinian workers who run the aid supplies that are all that stand between the vast majority of Gazans and destitution. "We have 80% unemployment, an economy at subsistence level, infrastructure destroyed, etc, but even worse than the humanitarian plight is the destruction of civil society."
Ging's great preoccupation is "the 750,000 children susceptible to an environment where things are moving rapidly in the wrong direction, where the injustice is bewildering, and every day worse".
There is a big problem of insecurity and violence here, and it is getting worse. Most adults display stoic resilience, and cling to a belief in traditional values, but there is a compelling narrative by extremists which becomes ever more difficult to combat. Only lifting the siege would change the dynamic.
An international community that has accepted the "normalcy" of the degrading tunnel economy for Gaza, shames us all. Ending the water emergency should be the first step to breaking the blockade.
(Taken from Victoria Brittain's article in the Guardian, Wednesday, Dec 9th 2009 : http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/dec/09/gaza-children-palestinian-babies)
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Monday, 30 November 2009
Peace & Solidarity
QM Stop the War Coalition
-This union notes:
1. That the Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises equal right to all, including “Everyone has the right to education.” (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26)
2. That the Islamic University of Gaza is the largest university in Palestine.
3. That the IUG is a member of the International Association of Universities, Community of Mediterranean Universities and others, and that it won many prestigious awards including the Galileo International Prize for optics amongst others. (www.iugaza.edu.ps.en)
4. That the IUG is an independent institution free of any political party or group strongholds over it. (www.iugaza.edu.ps.en)
5. That on Sunday 28th December 2008, IUG was bombarded and two-six-storey buildings housing all of the university laboratories belonging to the colleges of IT, engineering and science were totally devastated (BBC news: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7802515.stm) (www.iugaza.edu.ps.en)
6. That before its bombing there were over 20,000 students at the IUG able to study with full resources. (www.iugaza.edu.ps.en)
7. That the president of the IUG, Dr Kamalain Sha’ath wrote to Queen Mary students during the occupation of fb113 to express the need for help and aid from students in the UK since the Israeli bombing of it. One of his requests was that UK universities twin with the IUG.
8. That a motion held at an EGM declared Israel an apartheid state. Therefore, as Israel is the occupying force in Gaza and West Bank, Palestinians in the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’ are the victims of apartheid. Now, various significant political figures have said the same; Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a black South African leading activist in the ANC (African National Congress that lead the movement) said on his visit to the Holy Land, “it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa", referring to the treatment of Palestinians in the hands of the Israeli state. More recently, the SA Trade Union, the country’s largest umbrella group of trade unions, has also voted to condemn the Israeli apartheid state and expressed solidarity with the Palestinians- many of these members experienced apartheid at the hands of the white Afrikaners, so they understand apartheid more so than others. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/apr/29/comment) (www.ynetnews.com)
9. That international solidarity with students suffering from apartheid played an important role in the South African apartheid movement. The ANC Youth League (of which Nelson Mandela first joined) had a huge part in the campaign for freedom for black and Indian South Africans, and today the ANC talk of the importance of international student cooperation. One example is of students around the world meeting at their own universities and gathering support and funds for those SA students. (Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom)
10. That since 2007 Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza barring people, goods, aid (though some charities like the VIVA Palestina Convoy and DEC are able to get in) and much needed materials like cement for rebuilding damaged houses, from both entering and leaving Gaza. (BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7545636.stm) (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/21/israel-gaza-strip-middle-east)
11. That amongst other outcomes, this is having a detrimental impact on student life, from what we may call simple things like textbooks and paper barred from coming in to Gaza, to bigger problems, like the psychological effects suffered by many young Palestinians. (Medical Aid for Palestinians: www.map-uk.org) The humanitarian crisis also inevitably means that students are unable to carry on their studies due to illnesses that cannot be treated (over half of all hospitals in Gaza were bombed by the IDF during its assault, 40 clinics were damaged and 2 completely destroyed. Patients cannot leave Gaza to receive treatment in Egypt or Israel where many would normally have gone) and having to look after family members. Due to unemployment, which is a result of the blockade and bombing, parents can no longer afford to pay university fees for their children. (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3669379,00.html)
12. That it is a commonly held British, and also universal principle that all people have the right to education. Nevertheless, simple and also important advantages and rights that we enjoy as students in the UK are constantly being violated for Palestinian students. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/12/israelandthepalestinians.unitednations)
-This union believes:
1. That all people have the right to education (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26)
2. In the importance of solidarity and the difference that it makes to victims of war, apartheid and foreign blockades.
3. That international solidarity was an important factor in the struggle against South African apartheid and can also be in the new struggle against Israeli apartheid.
4. Thus it is our responsibility as Queen Mary students who live in a safe environment, and are more fortunate than many other students around the world, that we mobilise to support those students in the face of oppression and persecution, to help give them better chances at education as they deserve.
5. That the IUG lists Queen Mary as one of many universities in the UK that acted in solidarity with them- this is a new precedence set for QM. That we have this new status is a fact that we should be proud of, and aim to increase and maintain in the struggle for freedom.
-This union resolves:
1. That QMSU twins with the Islamic University of Gaza as an act of solidarity for the damage done to the institution since the bombing, the current blockade on anything or anyone leaving or entering Gaza, and as solidarity to students who are victims of apartheid by doing the following:
I. To bring to the attention to heads of staff at QM the possibility of joint academic and scientific research between the two universities and teaching staff.
II. Encourage Provide to communicate volunteering opportunities in the Palestinian Occupied Territories
III. Look at sponsoring exchange visits for teachers and students; one possible aim is short-term training, attending courses, conferences, workshops, seminars
IV. That QMSU will publicise and support any academics and students who come on exchange visits to QM
V. To promote sponsoring subscription to limited online journals, databases, e-books or e-libraries to heads of library
2. That the SU post information of the twinning to students in QMessenger, through Global Email and other means.
3. That the principle and the QM management are told of this twinning project, and asked by the SU to support it.
4. That the SU do what is possible to convey this twinning project to the wider community, for example through press releases, and informing other Student Unions.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Queen Mary Stop the War Coalition
Saturday, 2 May 2009
Friday, 24 April 2009
Read the full article here- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-defies-us-and-destroys-palestinian-home-1672716.html
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Students at Sheffield University occupied a lecture theater in the Hicks building at 7:15pm today.
The students decided to occupy in solidarity with the people of Gaza and in response to the University Administration and Vice Chancellor’s uncooperative approach towards student’s previous list of demands.Check out their blog on: www.sheffoccupied.blogspot.com
Monday, 9 March 2009
Everyone is welcome and you will all get the opportunity to ask questions and talk to the women. Hope to see you all there...
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
The occupation of Cardiff University has ended with success as Cardiff University acceded to the occupiers’ key demand – to divest from the arms trade. Cardiff University have given students written confirmation that they have divested from the arms trade and have instructed fund managers not to reinvest. Check it out in full on theor blog...
VIVA VIVA PALESTINA!
For months the youth movement in Jayyous had made it one of the most active villages in the West Bank , embodying a strained resistance against occupation and the wall which will carve through village land destroying hundreds of olive trees and cutting the village off from many of its primary water supplies. Read more...