Free University of Brussels students join 'academic boycott' movement against Israel

Students determined to not leave encampment until all academic ties are cut with Israel

17:10 - 13/05/2024 Pazartesi
File photo
File photo

A group of students on Monday joined the international protest wave of encampments, asking for an academic boycott at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) in Belgium amid Israel's attacks on Gaza.

The students of the Dutch-language campus of the university occupied the dining hall where they set their tents, blankets, carpets, sleeping bags, and food.

They expressed their determination to not leave the area until their request is implemented, which is to cut all academic ties with Israel.

Johanna Pinket, an 18-year-old political science student at VUB, told Anadolu: “We want full academic boycotts with Israel. And we've seen it in other universities with also the same demands.

“We really want to show our support with the other students and just a full academic boycott between the VUB and Israeli institutions and universities,” Pinket said.

“We really want change now,” Pinket added, and stressed that the protest would continue as much as it is needed.

“I think as a student, we really have a responsibility. Every single university in Gaza has been bombed, which is very painful for us as students to see. So, we show a lot of solidarity with our fellow students also in Gaza.”

Ruaa Khatib, a 23-year-old student of communication sciences, said the VUB had ties with Zionist groups.

“Our demand is actually an academic boycott of the Zionist entity because our university has ties with the Zionist entity,” she said. “It (the VUB) is at this point complicit in a genocide.”

Students in universities across the world, including the UK, the US, and Canada, started occupying parts of their campuses, protesting against Israel's attacks on Gaza and the civilians.

In Belgium, students joined the movement on May 6. Protests continue in several cities, including Liege and Anvers.

Nearly 35,100 Palestinians have been killed and over 78,800 others injured in a brutal Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip since an attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7 last year that killed nearly 1,200 people.

More than seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine.

In an interim ruling in January, The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) said it is "plausible" that Tel Aviv is committing genocide in Gaza, ordering it to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in the enclave.

South Africa on Friday asked the ICJ to order Israel to withdraw from the southern Gaza city of Rafah as part of additional emergency measures over the war.

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