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From Australia to the UK: Where pro-Palestinian university protests are happening around the world


Demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians besieged by Israel in Gaza have spread to college campuses in the United States and around the world in recent weeks.

More than 2,000 people have been arrested on American campuses since April 18, amid polarized debates over the right to demonstrate, the limits of freedom of expression and accusations of anti-Semitism.

But while clashes and standoffs with police at New York’s Columbia University, Portland State and UCLA have garnered worldwide attention, protests and sit-ins are also taking place on campuses from parts of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

And although protesters’ demands vary from university to university, the majority of protests have called on universities to divest from companies that support Israel and the war in Gaza.

The current war began on October 7 when Hamas militants killed more than 1,200 people in southern Israel and took more than 200 people hostage. Israel’s military response has since triggered a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza that has inflamed global public opinion.

Israeli bombing of Gaza over seven months has killed more than 34,600 people, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Half of Gaza’s 2.2 million people are on the brink of starvation and a man-made famine is imminent, according to a scale used by United Nations agencies. Concerns are also heightened over a planned Israeli military operation in Rafah in southern Gaza, sparking new calls for a ceasefire.

Here’s a look at some of the pro-Palestinian protests on campuses around the world.

In recent weeks, pro-Palestinian protest camps have emerged at at least seven Australian universities.

The University of Queensland in Brisbane has become a gathering point for rival camps set up about 100 meters apart – one populated by supporters of UQ’s Students for Palestine, and another smaller group of tents displaying, among other things, the Israeli flag. between the trees.

They were erected in solidarity with Palestinians besieged by Israel in Gaza and with student protesters in the United States, but some Jewish groups say they cause unnecessary tension on campuses and Australia’s opposition leader called them of “racists” and “anti-Semites”.

UQ Palestine students want the university to disclose all its ties to Israeli businesses and universities and cut ties with arms companies.

Hilary Whiteman/CNN

Since April 23, camps have emerged on several university campuses across Australia.

So far, the scenes of violence that broke out at American universities have not been repeated in Australia.

At the University of Sydney, around 50 tents line the quadrangle where up to 100 demonstrators sleep each night. On May 3, Jewish groups staged a counter-protest against what they called a “disturbing trend of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli activity” at the university.

More than 200 people, some flying Israeli and Australian flags, gathered at the Sydney campus, but there were no direct meetings between them and the pro-Palestinian group, which had urged its supporters to help them “defend” their camp.

Pro-Palestinian protests have taken place at universities across the UK since the early days of Israel’s war in Gaza, with some setting up encampments in recent days.

At Newcastle University, a small pro-Palestinian encampment was set up on a lawn in front of the college buildings, videos and photos posted on social media showed.

The X account “Newcastle Apartheid Off Campus” shared images of their encampment, which shows a dozen tents on the lawn, some decorated with Palestinian flags.

Owen Humphreys/AP

Tents are set up at an encampment on the grounds of Newcastle University to protest against the war in Gaza, in Newcastle, England, May 2, 2024.

The group describes itself as a “student-led coalition fighting to end Newcastle University’s partnership with defense companies supplying Israel”.

Students in the English cities of Leeds, Bristol and Warwick also set up tents outside their university buildings to protest the war in Gaza, according to the PA news agency.

Protests on British campuses have sparked criticism from some Jewish student groups, as universities have called for taking their duty to protect Jewish students more seriously.

In Paris, pro-Palestinian demonstrations broke out at Sciences Po and the Sorbonne at the end of April.

French police evacuated protesters from the Sorbonne – one of the country’s most prestigious universities – with geotagged video by CNN showing officers dragging two protesters out of tents and onto the ground.

At Sciences Po, a protester said a student had gone on a hunger strike to protest the university’s response to “students wanting to support Palestine.”

A CNN video showed students holding signs calling for an end to the “genocide” in Gaza and a boycott of Israeli universities.

Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Riot police stand guard on the sidelines of a rally of university students in support of the Palestinian people after a makeshift encampment in front of the Sorbonne University was dispersed by police in Paris on May 2, 2024.

Sciences Po is one of France’s top-ranked universities and the alma mater of a large number of presidents, including outgoing leader Emmanuel Macron. It maintains close ties with Columbia University, where students stage large pro-Palestinian protests.

“We are inspired by Columbia, Harvard, Yale, UNC, Vanderbilt,” Louise, a student at Sciences Po, told CNN. “All these universities that have mobilized, but our solidarity remains above all with the Palestinian people.”

Amid the protests, the president of the Ile-de-France region declared that the university would no longer receive funding from the Paris region, “until serenity and security are restored to the school.”

Samuel Lejoyeaux, president of the Union of Jewish Students of France, called for more dialogue between protesters on both sides of the ideological divide.

In an article in the Le Monde newspaper on Thursday, he said pro-Palestinian protesters needed to do more to “clearly denounce anti-Semitism” but that sending in the police was not the solution.

“I will never be happy to see CRS enter a campus,” he wrote. “More than anything, I believe in dialogue. The great social advances in France have always been the fruit of activism and debate,” he added.

Protests took place at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, in solidarity with students protesting at Columbia.

The protests coincided with an expected campus visit by U.S. Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti, which was postponed.

“The JNU premises must not provide a platform for administrations and staff representing nations complicit in terrorism and genocide committed by Israel,” the JNU Student Union said in a statement on April 29. The union also expressed solidarity with the Columbia protesters.

JNU, ​​one of India’s top universities, has been at the forefront of several protest movements, including 2019 demonstrations against a controversial law that critics say discriminates against Muslims.

Two student political parties at Jamia Milia Islamia University in New Delhi also expressed solidarity with the pro-Palestinian protesters.

“We also denounce the stand taken by our BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)-led government in favor of Israel, which deviates from India’s historical position,” said a statement from the Indian Students’ Federation, an affiliate to the Communist Party.

Protests against Israel’s war in Gaza have swept campuses across Canada.

At McGill University in downtown Montreal, pro-Palestinian student protesters set up camp on the lawn.

Like their American counterparts, students are demanding that universities divest from companies with ties to Israel.

Christine Muschi/AP

Mounted police officers march as pro-Palestinian activists in an encampment set up on the campus of McGill University in Montreal, May 2, 2024.

The university attempted to disperse the protesters, saying it had requested police assistance after dialogue with student representatives failed.

On May 2, a Quebec Superior Court judge rejected a request for an injunction that would have forced pro-Palestinian protesters to leave their encampment.

Pro-Palestinian protesters have also set up encampments at the University of Toronto’s downtown campus and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, among other locations, according to public broadcaster CBC News.

Hundreds of students gathered on campuses across Lebanon in late April, waving Palestinian flags and demanding that their universities boycott companies doing business in Israel, Reuters reported.

In the capital, images showed students from the American University of Beirut protesting outside the gates against the war in Gaza.

Oliver Marsden/Middle East Images/AFP/Getty Images

American University of Beirut students and members of the public protest the war in Gaza outside the university gates in solidarity with students around the world, April 30 in Beirut, Lebanon.

Some protesters said they were inspired by protests on American campuses.

“We want to show the whole world that we have not forgotten the Palestinian cause and that the younger generation – conscious and cultured – is still supportive of the Palestinian cause,” Ali al-Muslem, 19, told Reuters.

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