Almost 200 University staff sign open letter in support of pro-Palestinian encampment

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Almost 200 Durham University staff have signed an open letter supporting Durham Students for Palestine, the group of students currently encamped on Palace Green.

Organisers at the encampment told Palatinate that they were “delighted to see so many staff members sign the open letter expressing solidarity with the camp and its demands.”

The 179 staff have signed to support the encampment’s demands and have called for the University to “constructively and substantively enter negotiations with the students regarding their demands.”

The encampment, which began on 10th May, demands that Durham University disinvests from “any company or organisation complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights and international law,” call for a ceasefire, advocate for the protection of the rights of Palestinians, and safeguard the rights of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian individuals to speak freely. 

Palatinate has previously broken down what each of these demands means in more detail. Organisers of the encampment told Palatinate that they believe the open letter “shows that our demands have support from both students and staff and how dedicated so many of us are at Durham to complete divestment, the calling of a ceasefire, and the safeguarding of Palestinian students.”

A group of staff members who signed the open letter told Palatinate, “We are proud to support our students who are advocating for justice for Palestinians.”

“Their presence at Palace Green is sending a powerful message against Israel’s state violence. As staff we are also learning from them about alternative modes of education and transnational solidarity.”

“We are proud to support our students who are advocating for justice for Palestinians”

Durham Staff members

Members of the Durham branch of the University and College Union (UCU) attended the encampment on 15th May, where they held their staff-student walkout. 

A staff member who signed the open letter told Palatinate that they signed it because “I think it’s important that universities speak out and commit to ending both their complicity in supporting genocide both financially, thorugh their investments, and technically, through education programs.’”

“Durham should join their staff and wider community in supporting their own students’ demands in their entirety,” they said. 

The University has, according to the encampment, agreed to produce a written response and hold an in-person meeting with students currently camping on Palace Green on 21st May. 

In their statement on the pro-Palestinian encampment on 10th May, the University said, “We have continually expressed distress and mounting concern at the appalling and huge number of civilian casualties and humanitarian suffering experienced by the people of Gaza, the appalling attacks on Israel and the plight of Israeli hostages.

“We have closely monitored the situation and provided direct and bespoke support to all students affected, including our Palestinian and Jewish students.”

Palatinate has asked the University if they would like to provide further comment, but they did not respond.

Those at the encampment hope that the University does more on the topic. They told Palatinate, “We hope that the University uses this meeting to meet our reasonable demands in an efficient manner.”

“However, we are saddened that we have yet to receive a written response to our demands, and we hope that the University uses the in-person meeting to rectify this shortfall,” the organisers of the encampment continued.

Recently, the University of Aberdeen’s Principal George Boyne called for a ceasefire in response to the encampment currently taking place at the University. However, they said that they would not disinvest from funds “indirectly connected with the conflict areas.”

Update: as of 15:00 on 21st May 2024, 221 members of staff have signed the open letter, which can be found here. The University claim to have not seen this open letter yet.

Update: following their meeting with students from the encampment on 21st May 2024, the University has released a statement saying it supports the right to protest and freedom of speech, which can be found here. None of the encampment’s demands were specifically addressed in this statement, but the University is to release further communication by 26th May, and has said that they are “working through the detail of matters raised.”

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4 thoughts on “Almost 200 University staff sign open letter in support of pro-Palestinian encampment

  • Well done to all taking part. Especially the students. This is a humanity cause. Human rights are everyone’s rights.

    Reply
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  • Well, of course EVERYONE – all the goodthinkful – wants a ceasefire and a return of

    all the hostages in Gaza, including all the corpses and at least one severed head and

    even the two corpses which Hamas has been warehousing for a decade.

    In the highly improbable event of a **Free Palestine** state coming into existence,

    such a state would simply turn out to be a corrupt and nasty despotism like the

    Palestinian Authority under Abu Mazen and his gang and all the other Arab sh*thole countries.

    Reply

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