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University of Michigan student government backs divestment

Human rights activists hold banners as they protest against Israel's occupation on Palestine in New York, US on 25 October 2017 [Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency]
Human rights activists in New York hold banners as they protest against Israel's occupation on Palestine on 25 October 2017 [Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency]

The University of Michigan's Central Student Government has voted to ask the school to look into possible divestment from companies said to be complicit in violations of Palestinian human rights at the hands of Israeli occupation authorities.

The resolution, brought by student organisation Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), was carried by 23 votes in favour, with 17 against and five abstentions.

This is the first time that the University of Michigan Student Government has backed such a motion, after ten unsuccessful attempts since 2002.

The vote took place at around 3am yesterday morning local time, after an eight-hour-long meeting, reportedly "the longest in student government history".

A secret ballot was approved by 28 votes to seven, amid concerns that students backing the divestment motion would face online harassment and blacklists.

Read: Trump's choice for civil rights post under fire over BDS crackdown

The divestment movement calls for the University's Board of Regents to create a committee to investigate three companies operating in Israel and involved in alleged human rights violations against Palestinians, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard and United Technologies.

SAFE has called on the university to divest from companies that "presently, or in the future, profit off of the human rights violations committed by Israel and that aid in the occupation and apartheid system that Israel maintains against the Palestinians."

Ahead of the student government meeting, the Black Student Union (BSU) tweeted their endorsement of divestment, with BSU executive board members attending the meeting alongside "many other social-justice oriented organisations" in backing SAFE.

The Central Student Government will now "call upon university administrators and the UM Board of Regents to appoint an ad hoc committee to investigate the ethical and moral implications of its investments in the three companies listed in the resolution."

According to reports, the University of Michigan has officially divested resources on two occasions in its history; from South Africa in 1978 and from the tobacco industry in 2000.

Asia & AmericasBDSInternational OrganisationsIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUS
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