Students launch hunger strikes to press for divestment in weapons companies

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Crescent International

Shawwal 27, 1445 2024-05-06

Daily News Analysis

by Crescent International

Following the example of students at McGill University in Montreal, Princeton students also launched a hunger strike on May 5.

Two hunger strikers—Rania Amine and Chadi— from about a group of dozen students at McGill had to be hospitalized after refusing food for over 30 days.

Rania lost consciousness after 34 days and was hospitalized, forcing her to end the hunger strike.

At Princeton, meanwhile, 17 students went on a hunger strike, according to a statement published in the Daily Princetonian (the university student paper).

The students have vowed not to eat or drink, except take sips of water until their demands to divest from companies supporting Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza are met.

Far from adhering to students’ demand for a just policy to not support Israeli apartheid and genocide, McGill has publicly threatened protesting students with arrest.

Several other universities in Canada including Concordia, University of Toronto, Western and Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia have joined these protests.

Thompson Rivers became the first university in Canada to agree to review its investment policy vis-à-vis Israel.

For several weeks, students at multiple campuses throughout the United States and Canada have held protests demanding their university administration end investments in companies supporting Israel’s war on Gaza.

While university administrations have responded in different ways to peaceful student protests and encampments, in the US they have been mostly brutal.

Police have been called to physically dismantle encampments and throw students out from their own campus.

Several thousand students (around 2500) have been arrested amid false allegations that the protests have been ‘violent’.

There has been no violence perpetrated by the protesting students.

Violence has been initiated by masked zionist thugs as happened at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) where the police stood by and did nothing to prevent such attacks.

UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block resorted to outright lies saying "urgent changes" were needed with the school’s safety operations after violence during recent protests on campus.

The only violence that occurred was perpetrated by masked zionist thugs, many of whom have served in the Israeli occupation army, yet Block used that as a pretext to deny pro-Palestinian students their fundamental rights to free speech and peaceful assembly.

While the state of California is known for its liberal views, university administrations are coming down hard on students.

At the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, the police attacked and dismantled the students’ encampment on May 5.

There was no resistance from the students, and no arrests took place.

University of California at Berkeley claims to be the birthplace of free speech movement and leader in social activism.

Yet it has invested $2 billion in BlackRock, which has substantial holdings in weapons manufacturers that arm Israel’s occupation army.

When pro-Palestinian students pointed to this hypocrisy, they were accused of disruption and perpetrating violence.

The situation at other universities in equally bad.

Texas state troopers were unleashed against students at the University of Texas in Austin while at the University of Ohio in Columbus, the police arrested dozens of students.

Their hands were tied so tightly with plastic zip ties, that one student fainted.

Students were put in metal cages and packed so tightly that they couldn’t breathe.

It was the same story at DePaul University in Chicago where the police were called to campus who dismantled student encampments but no arrests were made.

At the Art Institute of Chicago, the police said they arrested 68 people while at the University of Virginia, police cleared out pro-Palestinian protesters and took down tents near the center of the Charlottesville campus on May 4.

A long line of police in riot gear charged the group of protesters, grabbing away umbrellas, before pushing forward to a line of tents and canopies, tearing them down.

The story at George Washington University (GWU) was slightly different.

When GWU president Ellen Granberg falsely accused students of being violent and asked the DC Metropolitan Police Department to dismantle their encampments, they refused.

The Washington Post reported that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser defended the decision in a statement on May 3.

It quoted her as saying: “We support peaceful protests, and I rely on MPD and their experience and expertise to decide what types of interventions are necessary and when.”

Other universities notably Brown, Rutgers and Northwestern reached agreements with students to discuss the issue of divestment.

Some of them even agreed to offer scholarships to students from Gaza whose universities have been destroyed by Israel to continue their studies in these institutions.

Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington state, became the first institution in the US to agree to students’ demand to divest from companies supplying weapons to Israel.

Evergreen State College is the alma mater of Rachel Corrie, the young American peace activist, who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in March 2003.

She was trying to prevent the bulldozer from demolishing the house of a Palestinian in Rafah in southern Gaza.

Today, Rafah is again being threatened by an Israeli invasion that would result in the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinian men, women and children.

This is what the student protests are trying to prevent.

Their universities are complicit in zionist genocide.

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