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Photo by Nazeefa Ahmed

“Disclose and divest”: Student group demands U of C to disclose investments, cut ties with Israel and recognize Palestinian genocide

By Nazeefa Ahmed, May 9 2024—

On May 9 at 5:00 a.m., students belonging to the Mohkinstsis (Calgary) Student Movement set up an encampment at the Taylor Family Digital Library Quad. The group of approximately 100 students and community members placed signs around the perimeter of the encampment and chanted for the freedom of the Palestinian people. The group joins seven other Canadian universities setting up encampments at their institutions and demanding separation from Israel, either in their investments and/or their support of Israel.

Photo by Daman Singh

In a statement to the Gauntlet, the University of Calgary states that individuals are free to protest but encampments are not permitted.

“We are aware that a small number of tents have been set up on campus. We are engaging with the individuals involved however, temporary structures and overnight protests are not permitted. Members of the campus community are free to protest but they are not free to camp,” reads the statement.

According to an instagram post from @uofc_divest4pal around 3:30 p.m., University of Calgary plans to shut down power outlets around the encampment site. The post calls for generator donations as the group looks to continue their encampment. The group aims to host an emergency rally at 5:00 p.m. today in solidarity with Palestine. 

In an interview with the Gauntlet, camper Julia Lee states that the group aims to stay at the encampment until their demands are met. 

I am here along with a bunch of other students to demand that the university disclose how much they have invested in Israel, the academic ties to Israel, and divest from doing so because of the plight of thousands of Palestinian people.

Photo by Daman Singh

The group has seven demands, which include divestment from corporations supporting Israel, academic boycott of institutions complicit in Palestinian genocide and transparency in the investments made by the U of C.  

“This is one small part of a huge global movement and we’ve been completely inspired and blown away by the efforts of other students,” said Lee.

Since Oct. 7, different student groups have participated in protests at the U of C. Lee stated that the protests escalated to an encampment because the U of C community does not feel as though administration has heard their calls to action.

“Multiple different people and organizations and students have contacted administration and faculty to release a statement and disclose and divest from Israel. However, we have been met with silence,” said Lee.

“Because the University and its administrators have chosen to ignore many of our efforts to communicate, we believe that this step in escalation is necessary,”  Lee continued.

According to Lee, Calgary Police Service was called early in the morning but there was no confrontation or violence. 

We had a very calm and pleasant conversation with them and we have been enjoying a very peaceful day so far.”

Photo by Nazeefa Ahmed

Media spokespeople from the encampment included Ryn Laroux and Salam Kafri. Kafri stated that they have been given a trespassing order and that it is not valid because this is indigenous land. 

“They have filed us with a trespassing order knowing that we are on stolen land and that the university also resides on stolen land. So, recognizing that we believe it is our right as stakeholders in this institution and in this city to reside here and make our demands heard,” said Kafri.

“There are concrete interests at play here and what we demand is the concrete change of our university in order for them to stop funding this genocide,” Laroux continued. 

Kafri states that the encampment is open to speaking with anyone who wants to engage with them and emphasizes the university’s silence on past engagement attempts. 

“We have censuses and open discussions. We are educated and very much a student-led encampment that is open for dialogue,” said Kafri.

“We would like to note that we have made multiple attempts at open dialogue with the university and community. We have sent our demands and a letter of what we stand for a couple days before setting up the encampment. Today we are only met by security, police and no authority figure willing to have a discussion,” Kafri continued.

More updates and information about the encampment can be found on the group’s instagram page.

Last updated: May 9, 9:31 p.m.

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