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Pro-Palestinian encampment begins at the University of Calgary

A pro-Palestinian encampment has been set up at the University of Calgary, calling on the institution to cut any ties it has with Israel, following similar demonstrations at campuses across North America in recent weeks.

According to the student-led group behind the encampment, it has set up on campus to get the attention of the university’s senior leadership, including president Edward McCauley and interim provost Penny Werthner.

Like other recent university protests, those involved say students at the U of C are demonstrating to demand officials disclose and sever any ties the school has with Israel.

“We’ve been asking the U of C to review their investments, to make their investments more public, to make sure that we know what’s going on, where the money’s going, our tuition money,” said Mohammad Arhaam Mukati, president and co-founder of the U of C’s Palestinian Advocacy Club, who is involved with the encampment. 

“They’re not asking for much. What they are asking for is crucial, it’s important, it’s significant.”

The list of demands is outlined in the statement issued by the organizing groups.

They are asking the U of C to disclose all of its direct and indirect investments involving Israel. 

They are also calling for a “complete and continued divestment [from] corporations that develop military technology in order to profit from wars globally, all corporations that play a role in suppressing Indigenous peoples globally, and all corporations that have links to regimes under investigation by the International Criminal Court.”

Further, the organizers are urging the university to adopt a definition of anti-Palestinian racism on campus with a zero-tolerance policy, and support Palestinian students’ mental wellness and academic success.

Law enforcement called to the protest site

In a statement sent to CBC News, the U of C said it is aware that a small number of tents has been set up on campus.

“We are engaging with the individuals involved. However, temporary structures and overnight protests are not permitted,” reads the statement. 

“Members of the campus community are free to protest, but they are not free to camp.”

According to the Calgary police, they were notified around 6:30 a.m. Thursday by campus security that several protestors had begun setting up tents on the south lawn of MacEwan Hall.

A protest site at a university.
Protesters have started an encampment at the university to stand in solidarity with Palestine. (Jo Horwood/CBC)

“The protestors were asked to leave, and when they refused, were trespassed,” reads a statement from police.

“Despite being trespassed, the protestors refused to leave and police have been called in for assistance.”

The Calgary Police Service said it is working with the university to safely resolve this situation, adding that more information will be released as it becomes available.

“This isn’t the first time some sort of protest has happened,” Mukati said. “I think the students there are going to persist.”

Campus protests have emerged at several universities across Canada. The list includes McGill University in Montreal, the University of Toronto, the University of Ottawa� and the University of British Columbia.

In late January, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered Israel to do everything in its power to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.

Hamas’s attack on Israel last fall led to the capture of more than 250 hostages and killed around 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials. According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, the retaliatory bombing campaign and ground offensive has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians.

On Wednesday, Hillel, a global Jewish campus organization, released a statement calling on post-secondary administrators to protect all students, including Jewish students, by ensuring that campuses are free of harassment, intimidation and physical assault.

CBC News has reached out to Hillel’s Calgary chapter for comment.

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