KCLAP BDS Motion Short Statement

In light of yesterday’s success in passing the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions at the Student General Meeting, this is a short statement on behalf of KCLAP (a longer one will follow shortly). We are very pleased that KCL and KCLSU facilitated the opportunity to debate on this issue, an issue called for by more than 300 KCL students.

We would like to say once again, the main aim of this motion is to create and engage in dialogue within our college community, to begin to question our College on its investment in companies that are directly involved in international human right’s abuses such as G4S, Veolia and Eden Springs. We support the call by Fossil Free for KCL to cut ties with companies involved in the fossil fuel industry with the same fervour in which we support divesting from companies sustaining the occupation of Palestinian territory.

We would like to reiterate that this motion is not anti-semitic and does not aim to alienate any student on campus. KCLAP will remain at the forefront of combating anti-semitism alongside all forms of xenophobia. And we would be more than happy to discuss questions and issues that any students have regarding this motion. Our email address is kclactionpalestine@googlemail.com

To reiterate, this was a motion called for by more than 300 students of King’s College London. To deny the legitimacy of this motion is to deny the voices of a large cohort of students. We look forward to the next year, working towards making our university more ethically robust, one that refuses to profit at the expense of others and once again we wholeheartedly thank everyone – both students and staff – for your support.

Letter to my Unborn Son

Upon my parting of this world
When I will take off my worn leather shoes
And step barefoot onto mounds of soil from which I was fashioned.
There is a possibility that you my child will never know the hue of eyes that love you more than sight itself,
And you will linger on a lifetimes’s curb seeking out questions that have no satisfactory answer.

So, I will leave you with this letter.
I leave with you this letter and a shoebox of trinkets
I leave with you this letter and a shoebox of trinkets and a lesson you must embrace even after the reminiscence of a father fades.

Go to the attic
Look in the chest beneath the painting Uncle Samir sent
Take out these 4 items I leave you
Let your eyes hold their image captive
Let Your fingers find meaning like a blind child pawing over the Quran in braille

The first a jar, crystal clear, plane and pure .
Filled with soil and seeds, the very fabric of your fatherland: PALESTINE.
Very much a part of you as the shed aftermath of haircuts I would have given you.
This earth and you are the same.
Grew crops that sustained you even before the inception of a great grandson
Same eyes, same legs, same hands same skin
A tree who’s roots know routes to places they don’t show in brochures
Hold onto this jar
This earth and you are the same.

The second a Key
They may take your land, your bed, your towel and your spine
But take this key and know there is a home who’s lights you forgot to turn off.
A place that is ours that might be veneered with glistening white settlements
But the grape vines in the garden can testify for you.
You are key without a keyhole, without a door or a place to hang our coats
Rustic corroded but heavy in your hand and warm to the touch.
If I can teach you anything about keys it’s:
Don’t let them jingle at the thigh of a prison guard
But in the precious hands of your daughters as you write your own letters.
Though you may try to cut new keys – they will scrape edges and never quite fit the same
And it might be hard to imagine heights of keyholes or the width of unfamiliar doors but there will always be a place to hang your coat
We make our own keyholes
Make your bricks from the land ground from our bones
Pile them high like stacks of plates to make clay walls
Opposing their cold apartheid walls
Never settle for halves but wholes
We make our own keyholes

Take the third item: a Kuffiyeh
And run it through your fingers like zamzam water
Wear it around your neck, my arms embraced
Soak up the smells of dust and soil, perfume and olive oil
Wear your colours not for the sake of nationalistic pride but to inspire
You my son will inspire
When missiles bombs and bullets cast the sky in fire
Through massacres and exterminations,
warped statistics and annihilations
Past road blocks and fences,
Humiliation through colonisation
You will practice your p’s so your homeland will be tattooed on the tip of your tongue
Read books and write poems
You are from Kalil where champions among men blessed the land with their burial
Ibrahim, Ishaac and Yakub
Abrahm, Isac, and Jacob
You my son will inspire

The last item is but a mirror
A mirror I bought at a market still filled with the sound of optimistic laughter and Life
Where people who have close to nothing can still spare a smile
A mirror to remind you that all that I am is in you
Same eyes, same nose, same mouth
That you are in every way possible loved
And that the refugee status passed onto you will not serve as an unwanted mutation
But as a reminder that you walk hand in hand with hope
You
You are Palestinian

By Kamil Mahmood

KCLAP, KCL Disability Awareness society and KCL Friends of MSF hosts young people from Gaza in what is to be disabled under occupation.

MAP eventIn conjunction with KCL Disability Awareness society and KCL Friends of Médecins Sans Frontières KCL Action Palestine hosted three young people from Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) who spoke about living in occupied Palestine with disabilities.

Amal (from Hebron in the West Bank), Latifah and Suleiman (from Gaza) were accompanied by Esperanza Shannan who works as an aid worker in Palestine.

In Palestine:
• More than one third of 15 year olds with disabilities have never enrolled in school.
• Over 87% of those living with disabilities are unemployed.
• One third will never marry.

Yet their voices are never heard. Not only are they confronted with the difficult conditions imposed by the Israeli Occupation, but are also forced to deal daily with the social stigma attached to disability. The Disability under Occupation event on Thursday was a rare and eye-opening discussion. It was an important opportunity to avoid negative Orientalism through first hand narratives. Due to unfortunate under attendance, we think its necessary that Latifah and Suleiman’s experiences are relayed.

The event was made possible through the organization Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP), founded in 1984 in the wake of the Sabra and Shatila massacre. In the words of Esperanza Shannan, the aid worker present at the event tonight, the aim is not to provide the chairs, tables and equipment but the training as well. MAP provides sustainable medical support and development for Palestinians. She also made a very inspirational speech of how beliefs are what gives us strength, whatever they might be.
Latifah began her talk with an exercise, passing around a plain piece of paper and asking us to comment and speak to it with positive language. The group commented on the paper’s cleanliness, the sacrifice that went into its production, the hope it provided, the capacity for greater things and the paper as a canvas for imagination.

She then passed around a second piece of paper, asking us to use negative language towards it. The group commented on how the paper was worthless, it was torn up, it was defenseless and through folding it and scrunching it up, the creases would never straighten out. Latifah explained to us that the second paper is representative of how those with disabilities are treated, those who suffer from marginalization and are only looked at through the lens of disability which ends up diminishing their humanity.

Latifah works in projects supported by MAP which empower disabled Palestinians and challenges how they as well as others view themselves. Through the project she saw that the stigma surrounding disability is not just an individual problem but it is a cause that society has to engage in. In the 2008-9 siege, Latifah was affected psychologically. She felt powerless, remained inside her house and couldn’t leave during the aggression. On the TV she saw people with their limbs amputated, she could hear guns and tanks. This is not just the case for her, many people felt this sense of powerlessness.

Suleiman is from Gaza as well and aspires to become a political analyst. In the siege of Gaza in 2012, the Israeli forces demolished his house as he and 60 odd members of his family were inside. He spoke of the role of the Israeli occupation and the effect it has had on Palestinians with disabilities. He commented on the different manifestations of occupation, the existence of the apartheid wall which breaks the Palestinian economy and deals with the population as if they are terrorists. He related a joke in which an American asks a Palestinian what he wishes for, the Palestinian says he wishes to get married, have a house and car. The American says that he asked for his wishes and not his rights. This shows the disparity in human rights related experiences within humanity. He comments on how when viewing the Shard on his way to the talk, he thought of the people in Gaza living under tin shacks.

Suleiman asks for the international community to deal with Palestinians not from a charitable or even humanitarian way, but developmentally, allowing Palestinians to sustain themselves independently and not rely on donors. There is an expression in Palestinian politics: teach me how to fish instead of giving me the fish to eat.

Latifah commented that one way to send a strong message to Israel is to boycott and show that Palestinians are unhappy in the way that they are being treated. It was asked whether the people in Gaza support the boycott, Suleiman says that since Israel controls the borders what enters and resources how can Gaza boycott? Other products that have alternatives are fruit and vegetables as they can be homegrown – an innovative form of Palestinian boycott.

During the Q&A session, it was asked what will they take home to Gaza after visiting London. For Suleiman, this was the first he left Gaza, realising what freedom is for the first time. He said he wishes to teach Palestinians what freedom is, even if it comes at his own personal cost.

Overall, it was a once in a life time event from people that really struggled to manage to get permission to come to the UK, on a Visa that was given to them for the exact 3 days of talks they are giving in the country. More than academic speakers with tons of credentials, or ‘Palestine’ specialists, we should emphasise our focus on listening to Palestinian themselves. This event taught us that we should be learning from the very people we are standing in solidarity with.

KCLAP, March 2014

Israeli apartheid and boycott: student Palestine solidarity on campus

sodastream

The ‘UN year of solidarity with the Palestinian people’ is at its start and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) seems to be stepping up in strength as a protagonist of the solidarity work for Palestine.

BDS is an equal-rights based movement formed in 2005 by 170 Palestinian organisations, trade unions, and political parties. It emerged as a grass root reaction to decades of unfruitful negotiations within the international community. Its three demands are as follows:

  1. An end to the 1967 illegal occupation and colonisation of Palestinian lands and dismantling the separation Wall in the West Bank.
  2. Full equal rights for all Palestinian citizens of Israel. There are more than fifty laws in place today that discriminate against Palestinians based solely on ethnicity, rendering them as second class citizens.
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their homes as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. Currently, more than half of the Palestinian population lives outside mandatory Palestine and cannot exert its basic right of return.

Recent news circulating about BDS so far this year include the announcement of Dutch pension fund PGGM to divest million of Euros from 5 Israeli banks, the launch of UK government guidelines warning businesses of making businesses with illegal Israeli settlements, and the decision made by Oxfam to disassociate itself from its celebrity ambassador Scarlet Johanson for taking a job as the public face of Soda Stream, an Israeli company based on an illegal Israeli settlement.

The Boycott and Divestment movement is an international tool which was used to mobilise against apartheid. It takes its popularity from its success in bringing down the racist regime of South Africa 1948 – 1994. The NUS adopted the BDS call in the 1980s and we hope that the same is done again for Palestinians, starting at the King’s College Students Union.

Counter-BDS propaganda is varied, from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) claiming boycotts harm Palestinian workers, to extreme accusations that BDS has anti-Semitic purposes, aiming “to destroy Israel and vilify Jews”. In its own realm, the recent surge of Pro-Palestine activism across UK universities has caused a comeback from the Israeli government, who has urged the British government to “lean on universities to prevent their participation in academic boycotts of the country”, according to a report from The Times.

King’s College London Action Palestine has started the academic year with great successes and the support for Palestine on campus seems to keep growing. Our victory against a multi million pound contract with G4S shows students are concerned.

King’s still has contracts and relationships with companies and organisations directly maintaining apartheid; G4S, Veolia, and the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya (ICH). G4S provides services and equipment to Israeli prisons, checkpoints and the Apartheid Wall; Veolia helps build and operate the Jerusalem Light Rail which links illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory with Israel; and the ICH is an organisation that hosts a conference every year between high profile political and business leaders that meet to discuss how to advance Israeli policy in the region.

Thanks to our successes, G4S’s remaining involvement is limited to cash collection services, its access control system at Denmark Hill campus was terminated at the start of this year. Veolia is involved in the disposal of rubbish at our campuses. At the academic level, King’s has strong links to the ICH through the  International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) in the War Studies Department.

It is imperative to have an encompassing platform to make King’s break links with these organisations; endorsing the BDS movement gives us this capability.

Be part of King’s campaign to get the Student Union endorse the call for BDS. Join us during Israeli Apartheid Week, and watch this space for “Liberation and Resistance: A cultural event” which will fuse poetry, cuisine, art and poetry in one big night of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

We can only succeed the help of students like you. Join KCL Action Palestine on Facebook or e-mail us to get involved at: kclactionpalestine@googlemail.com

g4s

G4S lose out on KCL security contract

Yesterday King’s College London (KCL) announced that it has awarded it’s £10 million security contract for ‘most’ of it’s campuses and all its residences to CIS Security.

KCL Action Palestine (KCLAP) welcomes this decision as a step in the right direction towards our greater struggle for the adoption of an effective and robust ethical investment and procurement policy.

Divestment sends a strong message to companies like Group4Securicor (G4S) which are complicit in the violation of human rights and international law. It is important to remember that G4S’s misconduct is current, it is happening as we speak. In the 21st century, one of the largest private sector companies is constantly abusing its position of power through racist malpractice and disregard for human dignity through it’s pursuit of profit.

From as far as South Africa, to university campuses across the UK such as Birmingham and Southampton. The call to Stop G4S is moving from strength to strength.

The continuous effort of resistance and support by the KCL students and staff has been the driving force of our campaign. The next step in our movement is to ensure KCL does not renew its existing contracts with G4S, a demand that has yet to be recognised by the college.

Student consultation is fundamental in ensuring our institution is one that operates conscientiously. We must not tire in applying pressure. This is our campus where we work, teach and study.

Sign the petition. Attend our open meetings. Spread the word and join the call to Stop G4S.

In solidarity,

KCLAP Committee 2013-14

KCLAP Stop G4S March – 30/10/2013

In the last week, the Stop G4S petition as part of our campaign at King’s College London (KCL) has garnered more than 500 signatures. On the 30th October 2013, a group of KCL students marched from the Strand Campus to the James Clerk Maxwell building against Group4Securior (G4S) being given a £10 million security contract.

Our university; King’s College London, use a variety of G4S’s services including cash collection and access control at the Denmark Hill campus. Their most recent documented human rights abuse has been the maltreatment of detainees in the Mangaung prison in South Africa. The company was accused of “pervasive racism” following a coroner’s report into the death of Angolan detainee Jimmy Mubenga. G4S is also complicit in assisting Israel break the Geneva Convention. Consequently, it is of no surprise to us that G4S was recently shortlisted in the Public Eye Award for the ‘Worst Company of the Year’.

We marched to formally hand the Principal; Rick Trainor, the Head of Administration and College Secretary; Ian Creagh and the Deputy Director of Estates and Facilities; Nick  O’Donnell our physical petitions and an open letter. These were signed by academics, student councillors and union representatives who all oppose G4S’s affiliations with King’s College London.

We were instead met with one of Rick Trainor’s secretaries, as he and apparently neither Creagh nor O’Donnell were available. It was guaranteed the petitions would be given to all three.

Despite the fact that we were not able to talk to the principal or his colleagues, our presence was known to all in the building. The James Clerk Maxwell building was placed on lockdown after more than 20 KCL students were peacefully demonstrating against G4S. We had a good response from the general public who were interested in our cause.

We marched to let our voices be heard, to reach the ivory towers of our University’s bureaucracy that believe there is no issue in creating contracts with unethical companies if it means balancing the books.

This demonstration is another example of our readiness as KCL students to fight against any injustice on campus. It comes a day after the KCLSU Student Council passed motions in support of Thursday’s lecturers strike, the KCL Living Wage campaign and the Stop G4S campaign. Until KCL announce the outcome of the security tendering process, we will continue to call for KCL to reject G4S’s bid, to reject renewing its current G4S contracts and we will call for an effective ethical investment policy when acquiring services and research funding.

Sign our petition. Join the call to Stop G4S.

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For further press inquiries, contact kclactionpalestine@googlemail.com

In solidarity,

 

KCL Action Palestine Committee 2013-14

 

 

Press Release: KCL Action Palestine Stop G4S Campaign

In May 2013 King’s College London (KCL) announced a new contract with the British-Danish security giant ‘Group4Securicor’ (G4S). G4S is providing our University with it’s services through G4S Security Services UK LTD and G4S Technology LTD. There is also a potential £10 million contract with G4S in the pipeline to secure our campuses.

G4S has repeatedly been accused of numerous human rights abuses. Most notable is its disregard for the Fourth Geneva Convention, through its illegal transportation of Palestinian political prisoners from the occupied West Bank to the occupying Israeli state. G4S were complicit in the death of the Angolan detainee, Jimmy Mubenga which led the coroner to conclude an institutionally “pervasive racism” within the company. This, coupled with concerns that many of the security personnel are “not officially accredited to carry out removals”, means that they would have been acting illegally.  Stark reminders of G4S’s lack of concern for human rights and its failings as an organisation to protect the welfare of its clients.

Furthermore, several directors of G4S have employed questionable taxation practices which HMRC describes as “tax avoidance, pure and simple”. 

The company awarded this £10 million security contract will be in direct contact with students. Our personal security cannot and should not be protected by a company that fails to uphold standards of ethical and commercial provision elsewhere.

KCLAP demands that KCL cancels all existing and future contracts with G4S, as well as deny the renewal of any existing contracts with G4S. KCLAP demands that the student body is involved in ensuring that KCL is a university that invests ethically in both its services and its research. We, the students, demand the university establish a more effective ethical investment policy, so that KCL cannot be complicit in acts of moral bankruptcy through its affiliation with companies that disregard international law. By investing in companies and institutions involved in violations of human rights we become complicit in its misconduct.

In Solidarity,

KCLAP Committee 2013-14

To sign our online petition visit:

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/get-g4s-off-king-s-college-london-campuses

For further inquires, please email: kclactionpalestine@googlemail.com