Birmingham students in Gaza Ceasefire walkout as part of national protest action
Hundreds of Birmingham students walked out of classes today, demanding a ceasefire in Israel’s military bombardment of Gaza, which has killed over 10,000 people in the Palestinian territory, including around 4,000 children in under a month.
Students at the University of Birmingham took part in a mass walkout before congregating for an impromptu rally on campus grounds at 1pm.
Waving placards and banners calling for a ceasefire, the young activists chanted in unison and listened to speakers discussing the current situation in the Middle East.
According to the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres earlier this week, Gaza is becoming a “graveyard for children”; amplifying demands for a ceasefire in the enclave, where Palestinian health authorities said the death toll from Israeli strikes had exceeded 10,000.
Student protest co-organiser Abu said students and staff had come together to call for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and an end to the University of Birmingham’s “complicity in any war crimes ongoing in the region”.
“Historically, the student movement has been a very powerful force in calling for justice. It’s important that we maintain that tradition and students are a core part of this country and it’s important that they have their message and have their words heard.
“It’s important that we educate those around us. There’s a few hundred here, there’s hundreds of students walking past, the opportunity to hear them and have them educated and become aware of what’s going on is critical for the long-term and ensuring there is a political will from the public to call for a long-term solution for the ongoing crisis and occupation within Gaza and the West Bank.”
Commenting on the Israeli bombing of Gaza, Abu said he was “appalled” by recent events.
“Not only am I appalled, I’m devastated to see that our leaders and our country have refused to speak up.
“I’m appalled that the leaders of our country have refused to back a ceasefire, and I’m appalled that the leaders of our country have failed to show any backbone really.”
Hamza Stitan, a Palestinian living in Birmingham, said he feared for the 250 relatives he has living in Gaza.
“It’s hard to put it into words because what we’re seeing on our screens isn’t in any way describable. Crimes against humanity, the brutal oppression against the Palestinian people, whether they’re children, men, women, it’s indescribable.
“I can’t really tell you how I feel other than I’m distraught, I feel helpless and I’m sure many millions across the UK feel the same.
“Everytime I get a phone call from them [relatives], when I get a phone call from them, it’s a matter of life or death. I can’t describe the feeling when I do get a phone call from them because I’m not sure what words they’ll be telling me across the phone, whether it’s good news or whether it’s bad news. I have unfortunately had some bad news so it’s a difficult situation.
“The government in the UK and US and the media gives Israel the green light to act without impunity to continue its aggression, to commit crimes that we’ve never seen before, and it is they who lobby for Israel’s… everything really, they supply weapons, they supply the justifications for Israel’s crimes; so it’s them we must put pressure on to then out pressure on Israel to stop its crimes against humanity.”
Student anti-war campaigners at the university have vowed to continue regular protests and walkouts until a ceasefire is reached.
Thousands of people from across Birmingham are expected to join a National March for Palestine in London tomorrow on Armistice Day.
“The breadth and depth of the support for the movement’s calls for a ceasefire has ensured that this Saturday’s march will go ahead. Thank you to everyone who helped. The demonstration is set to be huge.” a statement from organisers read.
“We want to send a clear message from the march that we represent the majority of the population in our calls for a ceasefire and that the movement in support of the Palestinians is growing in strength.
“There are many in the establishment and on the right who want to see us fail on Saturday so it is important that we have the biggest possible turnout and that we remain disciplined and united, and clear on the principles on which we march.
“Our call for a ceasefire is rooted in a sincere wish to see an end to all violence, especially that which targets civilians, while recognising that this cannot be achieved unless the root causes of that violence, the 75 years of ongoing Nakba against the Palestinian people, are adequately addressed.
“Our march has deliberately been planned to avoid Westminster so as not to interfere with Armistice commemorations. But just like the football matches, the Lord Mayor’s Show and many other planned events, it will go ahead on Saturday.
“This is now also about the democratic right to protest and a government that wants to curb that right. Stop the War is calling on everyone concerned with civil liberties to support our right to march.
“The unimaginable suffering of the people of Gaza demands we raise our voices in protest. We will not stop marching until Israel stops bombing and our government stops supporting them.”