Students call on University of New England to disclose, divest from Israel

May 27, 2024
Banner drop for Palestine at the University of New England. Photo: Armidale Friends of Palestine

Armidale Friends of Palestine and the community protested Israel’s war on Gaza by unfurling a six-metre flag on the University of New England (UNE) campus on May 26.

Students led chants, calling for a ceasefire and a free Palestine.

Shaz, a student engagement leader at the Indigenous Students Association, spoke about their experience of colonialism as a First Nations person, reminding the protest that Sorry Day is an opportunity to acknowledge many wrongdoings.

“How are we acknowledging one genocide and not the other?,” asked Shaz, adding, “I feel we should also have our brothers and sisters in Gaza in our hearts today.”

Tian, secretary of the NSW Young Greens, told the protest that they “have the right to know whether our university is taking part in Israel’s genocidal settler colonial project”.

Elena, from the Australian Communist Party, told the protest that they could not “campaign for accessible housing without remembering the people of Gaza living in tents. I cannot want better access to medical care without remembering that every hospital in Gaza has been bombed, that surgeons are being forced to work without anaesthesia.”

Speakers referenced a letter that they had sent to UNE’s vice-chancellor, Chris Moran. It read, in part, that while the University of New England is “a regional university ... it has ties across the globe”, meaning that “[i]t cannot avoid answering the same questions that other universities have been made to answer.”

The group reiterated the demands made in their letter, calling on university management to sign the international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) statement. The demands also included asking the university to publicly disclose any ties with Israel’s government, Israeli companies, and weapons’ companies, including but not limited to Thales, Lockheed Martin and Elbit.

Protest organisers said the community has no real way of knowing whether they are being made complicit in a genocide because the university, an important part of the community, has not disclosed its investments and research ties.

The order from the International Court of Justice, handed down on May 24 calling for an end to Israel's invasion, spurred the protestors on.

The organisers said that acting ethically, with a basic respect for human life, demanded immediate action.

The students promised to continue their efforts, saying that the UNE cannot rely on its location to protect it from answering the hard questions.

One organiser told Green Left: “We can all see the unceasing, genocidal actions of Israel. We can all see that our university and government have done nothing. We will not remain silent. We will stand with other students around the globe protesting what is happening.”

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.