Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Our Demands

Students from King's College London have begun an occupation in an urgent move to demand action from the institution. The move comes in light of the King's College Council's decision to award President Shimon Peres with an honorary doctorate, for the apparent recognition of his "peaceful solution to conflicts in the Middle East”, in November 2008. We believe that it is highly irresponsible for a college of this standing to give out honours to individuals of such contentious repute without prior consultation with the students of the university, who make up the major body of the college community.

The subsequent muteness of the Principal following the devastating assault on the Gaza Strip has been equally obscene. The appalling Israeli actions have killed over 1,300 Palestinians and injured thousands. Tens of thousands of civilians have been left homeless and displaced. Head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, John Ging, is now joining international calls for an investigation into the war crimes of recent action. Israel stands accused of using banned weapons such as phosphorus bombs, attacking medical facilities, including the killing of 12 ambulance men in marked vehicles, and killing large numbers of policemen who had no military role, amongst numerous other atrocious crimes. Peres has infamously supported this action.

Therefore, we demand the following:

King’s College London should issue a formal statement condemning Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip, acknowledging particularly the effect on educational institutions such as the bombing of the Gaza Islamic University and expressing concern about war crimes allegations. King’s College should encourage other universities in the Russell Group to make such a call, as well as informing the national press and the UK and Israeli governments of this call.

Shimon Peres’s honorary doctorate be immediately revoked by King’s College London. As Israeli Head of State, and having issued public support for potential war crimes in the Gaza Strip, we believe that the vast majority of the King’s College community would support this doctorate being immediately revoked as a gesture to show that King’s College is concerned by Israel’s actions in Gaza.

King’s College London should provide five fully-funded scholarships to Palestinian students, giving such students an opportunity to an education which the attack on Gaza and the previous blockade has denied to them.

King’s College London should facilitate a cross-campus fundraising day to raise money for the crisis in Gaza. This should be sent to the charity Medical Aid For Palestinians.

King’s College London should establish links with universities and other educational institutions affected by the crisis in Gaza in solidarity with their plight.

King’s College London should present us with a transparent list of investments in the arms trade, particularly those in GKN. King’s College should divest immediately from the arms trade.

Any old books, computers or other unwanted teaching/administrative resources should as soon as possible or at the end of this term be donated to universities or schools in the Gaza Strip that have been affected by Israel’s attack.

There should be no repercussions for any students involved in this protest. Universities should be a place where freedom of expression is encouraged, and the student movement in the UK and around the world has a proud tradition of organizing protest actions, whether against South African Apartheid or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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