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Students occupy of University of Manchester over links to BAE and Israeli universities

STUDENTS have occupied the University of Manchester over its links with two Israeli universities and with arms manufacturer BAE Systems.

Supporters defied driving rain to stage a demonstration backing the occupation yesterday.

About 50 students are reported to be in the university’s Roscoe Building which is used for lectures and seminars, but they told the Morning Star that around 300 were involved at different periods.

They spoke on condition that names were not used “because the university is kicking out students.”

One occupier told the Morning Star: “The university has partnerships with BAE Systems and the careers service pushes engineering students towards BAE. 

“BAE makes parts for fighter jets currently being used to bomb civilians in Gaza.

“The university also has links with Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.”

The occupiers insisted that they will remain there until the university gives into their four demands.

They are: an end to the university’s involvement with BAE Systems, an end to its links with the two universities in Israel, an end to “unethical” research, and no disciplinary action to be taken against students involved in protests and occupations.

An earlier occupation over the university’s BAE and Israel links took place from March 19 to 22 in the university’s Simon Building. One student has been suspended for his part in that occupation.

The suspended student, who is in his fourth year in the university’s physics department, said: “I have been personally targeted and harassed by the senior leadership team for being outspoken and criticising them regularly.

“This suspension won’t scare me away from being political or caring about the genocide currently going on in Palestine, that our university are complicit in.

“I have done nothing wrong except holding them to account for their actions, and I won’t be silenced.”

Students involved in the current occupation said they intended to continue “indefinitely” until the university authorities conceded their demands.

Another occupier said: “It’s going quite well. We have communal food and water so we are OK.

“There are a lot of demonstrations planned.”

A University spokesperson said: “We are aware of a student occupation in the Roscoe Building which began on Monday evening. Campus Support and Security are in attendance.

“The wellbeing of staff and students is our priority, and we will continue to monitor the situation carefully.

“The Roscoe Building is open and operating as normally as possible.”

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