KU Leuven students to occupy university

Student protests against partnerships with Israeli institutions are taking over Belgian universities, and KU Leuven forms no exception. From tomorrow onwards, students of the 'kuleuven.encampment' collective will occupy buildings on the Leuven campus.

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Demands made by the encampments collective

  • A complete and immediate boycott of Israeli universities and other institutions/companies that are complicit in upholding the apartheid state

  • The facilitation of educational needs of Palestinians here and in Palestine

  • A call for a permanent ceasefire and for allowing humanitarian aid to enter into Gaza without obstruction

  • Consistent and persistent transparency on all partnerships with Israel and its institutions

  • Recognition of Israel as an apartheid state committing genocide 

  • Recognition of the above demands until durable peace, justice, and full human civil rights and freedoms for all Palestinians are achieved

The occupation will start tomorrow, May 13, at a still undisclosed location. The campaigners are protesting KU Leuven's ties with Israeli universities and companies.

As initial discussions between students and the rector proved unsatisfactory, the protesters decided to proceed with an occupation of university buildings. 'During our conversation, the rector stated that the University will be more cautious establishing future partnerships, but we find that approach insufficient', says spokesperson Samier Khaled.

'All university ties to the genocide in Gaza must be severed immediately'

Samier Khaled, spokesperson encampment collective

The occupation will continue until KU Leuven commits to engaging in discussion or taking action: 'We told the rector on Tuesday (when the discussion took place, ed.) that more actions would follow.' 

Other universities 

Student protests at Belgian universities against academic collaborations with Israeli institutions have intensified in recent weeks. In Ghent, students proceeded to occupy university buildings. VUB and UAntwerpen students will join the occupation on their respective campuses from Monday 13 May onwards. At KU Leuven, student Hanna de Boe went on a three-day hunger strike to compel the university to sever its ties with Israel. 

In the meantime, KU Leuven has announced it will approach future Israeli partnerships with 'caution and restraint', following the recommendations of the university's ethical committee.

However, existing ties will not be cut, and that is where the shoe pinches according to the protesters: 'All collaborations with universities and institutions complicit in the genocide in Gaza should be ended immediately', they assert. This evening, the campaigners are organising a briefing at Alma 3 at 6pm for those wishing to participate. 

This article has been updated in light of recent events and slightly deviates from the original Dutch version.

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