Thursday, 3 June 2010

Soas unions statement regarding the attacks on Gaza Freedom Flotilla

1) Emergency UGM

2) Statement regarding the attacks on Gaza Freedom Flotilla

3) Stop Islamophobia conference

4) Protest at the Israeli embassy

1) Emergency UGM – TOMORROW, Thursday 3rd June, 3pm

G2, Russell Square


In light of the recent atrocities committed by the Israeli Defence Force against the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, an emergency Union General Meeting has been called. As you may know, three SOAS students were on the flotilla. One, Anne de Jong, is currently being detained in Israel whilst the whereabouts of the others are unknown.


At an Emergency General Meeting we can only discuss ONE motion, which follows with amendments. Please do come to this vitally important meeting to discuss and decide a response as SOAS students.


Support Annekarijin de Jong and the Freedom Flotilla

Submitted Ammendments will be in Green

This Union Notes:

  1. On the night of the 30th of May the 'Freedom Flotilla' (4 Cargo Ships, 4 Passenger Boats, 700 people) carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza from Turkey, Britain, Ireland, Greece, Kuwait and Algeria were attacked with at least 10 people having been killed.
  2. This attack was done while the boats were in International Waters and has violated The United Nations Law of the Sea part VII notably:

-          Article 87 (a) provides for "Freedom of Navigation"

-          Article 88 states 'The High Seas shall be reserved for peaceful purposes'

-          Article 89 States 'No State may validly purport to subject any part of the high seas to its sovereignty.'

3. On May 6th 2010 John Ging the Director of Operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza was quoted saying

-          'We believe that Israel will not intercept these vessels because the sea is open, and human rights organisations have been successful in similar previous operations proving that breaking the siege of Gaza is possible.'

4. A SOAS PhD researcher, Annekarijn de Jong, is on one of the boats. As part of her fieldwork research she spent  16 months in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel, including annexed East-Jerusalem and Besieged Gaza.

5. She is now being held, together with a large number of other activists, in the Be'er Sheva prison, with consular meeting denied to them.  She refuses to sign a statement for immediate deportation.

6. A former SOAS student, Jamal Elshayyal, was reporting from the Mavi Marmara ship when it was attacked.

7. That the Israeli Government is branding those on the ships as terrorists sympathisers with ties to the global jihad.

8. That the Israeli Government is attempting to brand a humanitarian, non-violent solidarity project as organised violent action against Israel.

9. That the Freedom Flotilla's purpose was to deliver much-needed medicine, medical equipment, milk powder, hygiene kits, toys, books, stationary articles etc that have been banned from entering Gaza due to Israel's siege that is now entering its fifth year. As such, their aim was to protest the siege that constitutes a form of collective punishment and is in breach of international law.

10. That the siege, as documented by a number of reports by international organisations, has created a man-made humanitarian crisis that is sanctioned by the UK government.

11. That the Israeli Government denies that a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip exists.

12 . Paul Webley, SOAS Director, has released a short statement to students and staff, noting Annekarijn's detention.

This Union Believes:

  1. Annekarijin de Jong should be immediately released from Israeli detention and allowed to resume her research.
  2. The Freedom Flotilla is a humanitarian project, not an attack on Israel, and should be supported.
    Reformulating (2):
    The Freedom Flotilla is a humanitarian and global solidarity project, and as such, it must be supported.
  3. That the branding of Palestine solidarity activists as global jihadists is an attack on all global solidarity activists.
  4. That more pressure must be exerted on the UK Government to campaign for an end to Israel's siege on Gaza.
  5. The School's statement, as prepared by Paul Webley, falls well short of the standard that the SOAS community expect of their institution. It fails to join the international condemnation of Israel's actions, and it fails to call for the immediate release of Annekarijn and the other detainees. It is a mealy-mouthed statement that makes no positive contribution to Annekarijn or the other detainees' welfare.
  6. It is a source of shame for students and staff at SOAS that the School authorities cannot bring themselves join the international consensus in condemning Israel's actions and act to meaningfully support the welfare and safety of a SOAS student.

This Union Resolves:

  1. To demand for Annekarijin de Jong's immediate release from Isaeli detention.

Reformulating (1):

Annekarijin de Jong, Jamal Elshayyal and all other Freedom Flotilla activists should be immediately released from Israeli detention with no threat of deportation.

2.For the School and Students' Union to support Annekarijin in whatever way she deems necessary.

3. To demand that the School both immediately and unreservedly condemn Israel's unlawful actions, and call for the immediate release of Annekarijn and all detainees from custody

 Ammendments to come before the meeting 

Nita Dhinsa SOAS Alumni presents a short documentary after the meeting in room FG08:

Chapters on Palestine is a thoughtful documentary about peoples' experiences of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.  It features interviews with the people of Abu Dis, Jerusalem, as well as human rights activist and director of ICHAD Jeff Halper.  A wide range of people discuss their opinions on: the expansion of settlements, the term terrorism and solutions to the conflict.  In some of the most moving scenes the children and people of Abu Dis speak about their day to day life under occupation, and discuss their hopes and dreams for the future.
Short artistic biography

Nita Dhinsa obtained an MA Comparative Literature with particular focus on nationhood and literature at SOAS University.  Currently based in London this is her first documentary.


2) Statement regarding the attacks on the Freedom Flotilla

Students, academics, and support staff at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) are immensely proud that one of our alumni, Jamal Elshayyal (25), and a current PhD candidate, Anne de Jong (29), have had the courage and principled conviction to participate in the non-violent action of the Free Gaza Flotilla in an effort to raise consciousness about the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. Israel's atrocious action against the people of Gaza has meant nearly three years of denial of basic human rights, education and international contact. Many of us at SOAS benefit from a uniquely informed perspective because of our institution's regional specialism. We are all the more horrified, dismayed, and outraged about the Israeli state's latest violation of international law. 

Jamal is currently a producer for al-Jazeera English and was reporting from one of the ships when it was violently boarded by the Israeli troops. Anne, whose research focuses on joint Palestinian and Israeli non-violent activism, decided to join the Free Gaza Flotilla because she firmly believes that academic work should not be restricted to writing journal papers from the ivory tower. Anne is currently being held in Be'er Shiva prison. We do not know the whereabouts of Jamal.

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the murderous Israeli assault on the Free Gaza Flotilla and the senseless deaths of civilians undertaking non-violent humanitarian action to break the illegal Israeli blockade on the people of Gaza.

It is essential that the academic community takes inspiration from Jamal's and Anne's example. That means taking sides and speaking out against such blatant breaches of international law, UN resolutions and human rights. We call on the international community to compel Israel to lift the collective punishment on the people of Gaza and allow free movement of goods and persons. Those who do not speak out against such crimes are complicit. 

SOAS Students' Union Executive

SOAS UCU Executive


3) Stop Islamophobia conference

Saturday 5th June, 9am-1.30pm (ends in time to go to the protest below)

Camden Centre, Bidborough Street

Muslims are under attack in this country as never before. Government policies and the media have created an atmosphere in which all Muslims are portrayed as reactionary and anti-western.

Young Muslims in particular are subject to surveillance in colleges, schools and mosques in the name of combating "extremism". Those who exercise their right to demonstrate peacefully have been subject to arrest and heavy sentencing.

Meanwhile, the racist "defence leagues" have been focussing their attacks on Muslim communities, with provocative marches in towns and cities inciting racial hatred and bigotry.

From its founding in 2001, Stop the War has been committed to combating racism. We recognise that Islamophobia is a direct consequence of the "war on terror". We believe it is vital that the anti-war movement acts in conjunction with other campaigns and organisations to stem its tide.

The Stop Islamophobia: Defend the Muslim Community conference on Saturday 5 June, organised by Stop the War and the British Muslim Initiative, will bring together a wide range of opinion united in concern over the escalating demonisation of Muslims in our society.

Organised by Stop the War Coalition and British Muslim Initiative

Supported by CND, Cordoba Foundation, Federation of Student Islamic Societies, Islam Channel, Islamic Forum of Europe, Islamophobia Watch, London Muslim Centre, Muslim Welfare House, National Union of Journalists, North London Central Mosque, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Unite


4)Demonstrate against Israel's atrocities and for an end to the siege on Gaza

Saturday 5 June • Gaza Flotilla March • End the Siege of Gaza: Freedom for Palestine. Assemble at Downing Street, London at 1.30pm to march to the Israeli Embassy.


Stop the War, the British Muslim Initiative, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and many others have called this protest after Monday's horrific attacks on the Freedom Flotilla. Sweden and Turkey have withdrawn their ambassadors from Israel already, so we begin at Downing Street to demand our government does the same, before moving to the Israeli embassy to voice our anger at this atrocity.


Sebastian Andres Lillo Uribe (Sebilio)
Co-President (Finance and Communications)
SOAS Students' Union
0207 898 4995

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