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Pro-Palestine activists launch encampment on Bristol University’s Royal Fort Gardens

A group of pro-Palestine activists has launched an encampment on Royal Fort Gardens at the University of Bristol demanding to ‘sever ties with arms companies.’

By Milan PereraDeputy Editor 

A group of pro-Palestine activists has set up tents on Royal Fort Gardens at the University of Bristol demanding ‘divestment and demilitarisation.’

The activists entered Royal Fort Gardens early this morning (May 1) and set up four tents around 4.00am on the front section of Royal Fort Gardens, facing Senate House.

The group consists of seven protesters who have raised banners expressing solidarity with Gaza.

Protestors on Royal Fort Gardens this morning / Milan Perera

In recent weeks there have been similar encampments on US campuses, notably at Columbia University.

Speaking to Epigram, one of the protesters who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘The University of Bristol holds at least £92 million in financial investments and research partnerships with arms companies. These ties with arms companies enable said companies to continue to supply the weapons it is using to pursue its illegal project, any collaboration with arms companies constitutes complicity in genocide.

‘Despite numerous meetings, open letters, walkouts and occupations the University of Bristol has thus far failed to take any action to divest from the arms industry. As students, as academics, as human beings we refuse to stand silent in a time of genocide. We demand divestment and demilitarisation – we demand arms off campus!’

The spokesperson for the group expressed their desire to continue the encampment until their 'demands are met.’

They added: ‘Student protest will continue until our demands of divestment are met and until academic freedom and student safety are adequately protected on campus. The global movement of students for liberation and emancipation will not end until we see a free Palestine. None of us are free until all of us are free.’

The group expects more activists and well-wishers to join the encampment as the day progresses.

The group have now (13 May) published a full set of demands which they say were agreed upon after 'consultation with the wider community'.

  1. Disclose investments and partnerships: full transparency regarding University research partnerships and financial investments.
  2. Demilitarise the university: Divest from and refuse to promote all arms companies.
  3. Adhere to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Movement: With draw all partnerships from Israeli universities and end the use of the Check-in app, which was developed by Israeli company Ex Libris.
  4. Support Palestinian liberation and reparations to Palestine
  5. No repercussions for involvement in the protest camp for any student or staff member
  6. Make Bristol University a people's university: establish a fully democratic university with no executives.

Regarding this ongoing development, a university spokesperson said: 'We are aware that a group has set up several tents in Royal Fort Gardens. We fully respect the rights of our students to peacefully protest within the law.'

Featured image: Milan Perera

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