24/05/2024 05:17 PM

OXFORD, May 24 (Bernama-Anadolu) -- Police on Thursday arrested 16 students during their peaceful sit-in protest inside the vice chancellor's office of the University of Oxford, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.

A group of students, members of Oxford Action for Palestine, started a sit-in protest inside the vice chancellor's office in Wellington Square to demand the administration to agree to a negotiation.

However, the group said that instead of engaging in a dialogue with them, the university called the police.

"16 student demonstrators have been arrested but most remain inside the building and are being denied bathroom access," Oxford Action for Palestine said in a statement.

In the meantime, over a hundred community members mobilised to block the exit and prevent police from leaving with the arrested students.

Early Thursday, the group said that after "months of ignored protests, walk-outs, encampments, and requests to meet," Oxford Action for Palestine began a sit-in at the university administration offices on Thursday morning.

"We intend to remain until the administration agrees to negotiate with our coalition, which has called on the university to end its enabling of Israel's genocide, occupation, and ongoing colonisation of Palestine," added the statement.


- Encampment attacked by suspects with crime


Late Wednesday, their encampment outside the Pitt Rivers Museum was "attacked yet again by a hostile actor armed with a knife," said the group.

"A small group of individuals aggressively approached our encampment and hurled vulgar antisemitic slurs at our Jewish community member who tried to de-escalate the altercation," it noted.

The suspects also tore down their banner featuring protesting students' demands and wielded a knife at them before proceeding to cut through the demonstration's only large banner with Arabic writing.

"This is not the first time we have been attacked for protesting Israel's genocide, and it likely will not be the last," added the statement.

Criticising Vice Chancellor Irene Tracey over remaining "silent" on Gaza, the group stated that they can no longer wait idly while Tracey refuses to meet with the students.


- 'Gaza cannot wait'


Recalling that their encampment outside the museum coincided with Israel's ground offensive on Rafah in southern Gaza on May 6, Oxford Action for Palestine noted that "Gaza cannot wait."

The group reminded that their encampment and its demands have received overwhelming support in just two weeks.

"Over 2,400 students, 600 members of faculty and staff, 14 local trade unions, and 200 university healthcare workers have signed open letters calling on the University of Oxford to cut ties with Israeli genocide, occupation, and apartheid."

Like many other campus protests, the Oxford encampment also demands the University of Oxford create full transparency on investments in any weapons companies, arms dealers, or procurers, and divest from financial ties with corporations complicit in Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip.

Israel has continued its brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip since Oct 7, 2023, despite a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in the enclave.

Since last October, at least 35,800 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed, and over 80,200 others have been injured.

More than seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which has ordered it to ensure that its forces do not commit acts of genocide and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.


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