Wits students set up Palestinian solidarity encampment

University senate expected to meet this week

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Students have set up a “Wits liberated zone” solidarity encampment on the university library lawns. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

Students from Wits University have set up a solidarity encampment on the library lawns at East campus in Johannesburg.

Building on similar movements at universities in the United States and elsewhere, where students have occupied spaces at their institutions and called for financial and academic boycotts of Israel because of the Gaza war and occupation of Palestinian land, students have dubbed the camp “The Wits Liberated Zone”.

Students pitched tents on Monday morning. This followed a protest last week when students called for Wits to take a public stand on the situation in Gaza.

Student Aaliyah Khan said that the students are hoping to put more pressure on the university to make a full disclosure of its relationships with Israeli institutions and companies.

“We are showing the university that we are serious about these issues and they need to respond to our demands,” said Khan.

Students who slept there overnight were hit by a rainstorm but emerged in good spirits on Tuesday morning. The camp is growing. A food station with free food has been set up. Some students work on posters and artwork.

Posters around the camp remind people that the movement is non-violent and that no property should be damaged.

Students at the camp said it is open to all students, not only for Palestinian solidarity, but for all “situations where capitalism and colonialism is a problem and includes places like Sudan, Congo and Haiti”.

The Wits senate is expected to hold a meeting this week to address the university’s stance on relations with Israel and the Palestinian cause.

Students say that they will remain at the encampment until their demands are met.

TOPICS:  Israel-Palestine Tertiary Education

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Dear Editor

These students are being very selective in their protest encampment! What about all the other atrocities in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan?
In any case, is this not stepping into their study time?

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