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BREAKING: Pro-Palestine Encampment Protests Launch at King’s College London

On 13 May, a student-led coalition of multiple London universities launched pro-Palestine encampments at King’s College London (KCL). Protestors intend to occupy the university grounds until their demands are met.

From 3:30pm on 13 May, a large crowd including King’s staff and students set up tents in the Quad outside the King’s Building on Strand Campus to demonstrate opposition to the war in Gaza. With drums and megaphones, the crowd chanted and cheered slogans familiar to other pro-Palestine demonstrations, including “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” and “We are all Palestinians!” and “Occupation is a crime!”

Included was a speech by one Muslim individual by the gates, stating that “Every 10 minutes, a child dies” and declaring that “Inshallah, one day Palestine will be free”. An individual was present with an Israeli flag.

A protest organiser provided Roar with an official statement, including 5 key demands:

In response to the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the global student solidarity movement, we as students of King’s College London express our unreserved solidarity by holding our university and its complicity to account. We have launched our encampment at King’s College London and will continue our action until the university meets our 5 key demands:

  1. Condemn Israeli war crimes in Palestine.
  2. Boycott all Israeli academic institutions involved in maintaining occupation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and genocide in Palestine.
  3. Divest from all corporations and arms manufacturers complicit in Israeli apartheid, genocide and scholasticide.
  4. Pledge to assist the rebuilding of Gaza’s destroyed education sector, establish academic ties with Palestinian universities and expand scholarships for Palestinian students including setting up a new scholarship in the name of Dr Maisara Al-Rayyes.
  5. Safeguard the freedom of speech for students, staff and allies engaging in protests and expressing Palestinian solidarity.

1) Condemn Israeli war crimes in Palestine – Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and Hamas’ operation on October 7th 2023, King’s College London issued a condemnation within a week of both. Over 7 months into the current genocide, the university has not condemned any of the countless documented Israeli war crimes.

2) Boycott all Israeli academic institutions involved in maintaining occupation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and genocide in Palestine – King’s College London has a network of partnerships with Israeli Universities directly implicated in occupation and apartheid including Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University.

3) Divest from all corporations and arms manufacturers complicit in Israeli apartheid, genocide and scholasticide including a £785,000 investment in Newton Investment Fund, owned by BNY Melon who just invested $10 miliion in Israel’s main arms company Elbit Systems. KCL has over £700,000 of additional investments in companies complicit in Israeli war crimes such as Caterpillar, Barclays and Cisco systems.

4) Israel has damaged or completely destroyed 80% of schools in Gaza and all 12 universities in a systematic obliteration of the education system in what UN experts and scholars have called “scholasticide”. More than 5,479 students, 261 teachers and 95 university professors have been killed in Gaza, and over 7,819 students and 756 teachers have been injured – with numbers growing each day. In November 2023, KCL alumnus Dr Maisara Alrayyes was killed, along with his family by Israeli bombardment. KCL must pledge to assist the rebuilding of Gaza’s destroyed education sector, establish academic ties with Palestinian universities and expand scholarships for Palestinian students including setting up a new scholarship in the name of Dr Maisara Al-Rayyes.

5) Safeguard the freedom of speech for students, staff and allies engaging in protests and expressing Palestinian solidarity – King’s College London must protect the academic freedom and safety of all its students, faculty and staff.

Statement by KCL Encampment Protest Organisers

The encampments at King’s takes inspiration from a wave of similar protests launched at other University of London campuses since the beginning of May. Encampments began at University College London on 2 May and at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) last weekend.

Before that, protestors in Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds put up tents outside campuses. Students at Goldsmiths, University of London barricaded and occupied the library. Some of these demonstrations’ demands have been met already.

There was no violence, and King’s security staff were present.

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