Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys

Oxford Action for Palestine rally outside Clarendon Building

On Thursday at 6pm, OA4P held an emergency rally followed by a press conference in front of the Clarendon Building, which houses the offices of the Proctors and the Vice-Chancellor. 

Representatives of the group called for the University to enter negotiations on the subject of divesting from companies they argue are implicated in Israel’s war against Hamas.

Hundreds of protesters rallied outside the Clarendon Building and chanted slogans including “from the river to the sea,” “free Palestine”, “Oxford all through history, committed to complicity,” and “disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest.” 

One OA4P representative stated that student funds should not play a role in “bankrolling genocide”. She also praised the “unprecedented coalition” of over 50 common rooms across 33 colleges that have filed for motions of the statement of Solidarity with the Gaza Encampment, echoing the demands of OA4P to their respective colleges. 

British-Palestinian surgeon and University of Glasgow academic Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah, who was recently denied entry to the European Union, spoke in support of the group. He said: “The student movement has given hope to our people. We are here because we have their back.”

This comes in response to the University’s email sent on Tuesday. Vice-Chancellor Irene Tracey stated that while she was “grateful that protests have been largely peaceful”, the University had heard directly from University members that “they have been feeling fearful or uncomfortable as a result” of them.

In a statement published on Tuesday, OA4P said they were “severely disappointed” that the University did not address their demands “substantially” and failed to “indicate any willingness to pursue further discussion.”

At the protest, a representative for the group said that they had prepared a team of negotiators to discuss their demands with University representatives.

The pro-Palestinian encampment at Oxford has entered its 11th day, with students camping outside Pitt Rivers Museum protesting against the University’s financial ties to the conflict in Gaza.

The response comes as universities across the US and some in the UK have reached agreements to end campus encampments in exchange for explorations of divestment from Israel-linked companies and arms companies.

Students at universities including Harvard, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Rutgers, and University of Wisconsin ended encampments after their college administrations agreed to open public debate or review on divestment. Last week, students at Trinity College Dublin ended a five-day encampment after the university pledged to cut ties with Israeli companies. 

On Wednesday, Cambridge For Palestine (C4P) set up a new encampment outside the University of Cambridge’s central administration building after Cambridge failed to meet protesters’ demands to open negotiations with C4P on May 14th. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Image Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys

Image Description: Pro-Palestine encampment outside Pitt River Museum.