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Stirling Students Protest Freedom for Palestine

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The event yesterday showing solidarity in King’s Park was hosted by Stirling University Labour Society

Yesterday in Kings Park, Stirling, students took to the grassy area to protest in support for Palestinians as conflict in the Middle East escalates.

The recent escalations in the long-running geopolitical violence between Palestine and Israel, leading to the worst violence between Israelis and Palestinians in years — not only in the conflict with Hamas, which has killed at least 145 people in Gaza and 12 in Israel, but in a wave of mob attacks in mixed Arab-Jewish cities in Israel.

The protest, organised by the university Stirling Labour Society aimed to unite students and Stirling citizens alike in protest of the violence, and offer a place to discuss both the current and on-going relationship between the two sparring nations, while educating people on what many have referred to as ‘genocide’ of the Palestinian people.

Discussions were encouraged to be respectful given the antisemitism that can often accompany criticism of Israel, and to separate Zionism from Judaism. No tolerance of any bigotry was accepted.

Students holding a Palestine flag. Credit: Rachel Swan

The protest attracted a modest number of attenders, with many going to Edinburgh and Glasgow protests over the weekend instead.

However, the Labour Society were thrilled with the turn-out, expecting less than arrived as Stirling citizens and students joined at King’s Park.

Lauren Harper, Chairperson of the university Labour Society said,

“I felt it was really important for Stirling to show some solidarity with the Palestinian people given the escalation we’ve seen in the conflict during the last few days.

“I personally feel like the conflict has been reduced to religious grounds which isn’t true at all, the fight is against settler colonialism and an incredibly racist regime.

“There are severe power imbalances in the conflict on the one hand we have Israel’s incredibly funded military and security and on the other hand Palestinians are forced to defend themselves with whatever they can. It’s effectively a genocide.”

Students and residents alike stand together in a minute of silence. Credit: Rachel Swan

Labour Society Woman’s Officer Harry Clement added, “If one silver lining can be drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic it’s the increased social awareness and empathy for conflicts and adversity in other countries.

I’m proud of Stirling as a small city to have a good turnout in support for Palestine, it shows the local government that the Israeli conflict is something we should be concerned about and puts pressure on them.

Lastly, we think students should be aware that amongst many other universities, Stirling is known to fund HBSC who support Israeli defences and is contributing to the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

One attendee remarked how they were reminded of iconic Desmond Tutu quote inferring neutrality is as good as siding with the oppressor.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Members from university society Global Justice Stirling were also in attendance, showing solidarity and expressing their views.

Ludovico Caminati of Global Justice Stirling said, “We were at kings park yesterday to show solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters that are being oppressed in Israel.

We, Global Justice Stirling, fight for a more equal and just world. In order to see this happen we have to face our past and our colonial history. Neglecting Israeli’s settler actions towards the Palestinian people is just unfair.

Especially since some of the biggest international actors support and fund the Israeli regime. We call the international community to speak up and put pressure trough sanctions on the Israeli governments (like it was done in South Africa) so that we firstly get a total ceasefire and then deliver a just deal for both sides, especially for the oppressed population of Palestine.”

The Global Justice Stirling society at the protest. Credit: Rachel Swan

Oxfam are currently running an on-ground crisis aid appeal to assist with the fallout of violence in Gaza. To find out more or donate, click here.

Featured Image Credit: Rachel Swan

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