Sheffield Gaza occupation rallies activists across the country

Submitted by martin on 27 March, 2009 - 11:28 Author: Gemma Short

Students at Sheffield University have been in occupation of space in the Hicks Building since Monday 16 March; on 23 March the occupation spread to the university's new, extremely posh, flagship exhibition centre.

The occupation has rallied and organised large numbers of activists at Sheffield, with many dozen actively participating and support from many hundreds more. It has also provided inspiration to activists around the country. This is the last and currently the only ongoing of the 30-plus student occupations that have taken place in solidarity with Gaza; as such it has become a focus for the whole movement, with messages of support pouring in and regular visitors from other universities.

Sheffield Workers' Liberty students have been central to the occupation, with a noticeable impact on its political character. Following our meeting with Israeli refuser Tamar Katz, the occupation voted to make solidarity with the refuser movements one of its demands; we have also made links with porters and other university workers, and included a demand in support of their struggles over pay and conditions.

Unfortunately, we have been undermined at every turn by the right-wing leadership of our student union, whose executive narrowly voted to condemn the occupation, and also by conservative elements within the university's Palestine solidarity movement and left. Nonetheless, as Solidarity goes to press, the struggles continues.

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