Five students from the University of Manchester are going on hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners.
The students, who say they “have a responsibility to support the Palestinian cause”, will begin their hunger strike tomorrow.
Speaking to MEMO, spokesperson and one of the five hunger strikers, Huda Ammori, said that this was their way of standing in solidarity with the Palestinians.
The students say they want to continue the long tradition of student activism that was at the heart of the anti-apartheid movement:
Decades ago, university students were key in demanding the end of apartheid of South Africa. University students have paid a key role in many anti-racist struggles, including Black Lives Matter. The struggle for justice for the Palestinians is no different; they have 70 years of unremitting mistreatment, including thousands of deaths, systemic expulsions, institutional racism and apartheid. We stand in solidarity with them.
Manchester University’s pro-Palestinian activists are currently in a row with the university’s management over its decision to discipline two students for their role in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign during Israel Apartheid Week.
Dozens of academics signed a petition calling on the university to withdraw the disciplinary charge against the students who carried a banner which read “Stop Arming Israel”.
In a statement to MEMO, the university confirmed that the Freedom of Information request (FOI) made by the students to obtain the list of companies it invested in was being processed “in the normal way”. However, Ammor confirmed that the FOI request has not been met and the university has refused to divest from investing in companies that support the Israeli occupation.
Explaining their reasons for the hunger strike they also mentioned their ongoing row with the university, which they accuse of supporting the “Israeli apartheid regime”.
Through our tuition fees we are funding the university’s activities, which support the Israeli apartheid regime. As most British universities, the University of Manchester invests millions of pounds in companies which are complicit with the suffering of the Palestinians. For instance, the university invests millions in Caterpillar, a company that supplies the bulldozers used by the Israeli Defence Forces to demolish Palestinian homes.
Tomorrow will mark the start of the students’ hunger strike and the 11th day of that of the Palestinian political prisoners. “We join them in their fight for justice.”
Update: A previous version of this piece reported that the students had made a number of demands on the university in order for them to end their hunger strike. Due to various reasons the students have dropped this demands and are now going on hunger strike only in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners.