UBC community begins Palestinian solidarity encampment

UBC community began an encampment this morning on MacInnes Field in solidarity with Palestine.

Signs which read “Long Live Palestine,” and “Turtle Island to Palestine: Occupation is a Crime” were attached to lined fences put up around the MacInnes Field, which was filled with tents and students in keffiyehs. Protestors crowded the centre of the field to hear speeches from speakers. Later, chants of “free, free Palestine” could still be heard from the encampment.

In an Instagram post, organizers @peoplesuniversityubc listed their demands for UBC. These include divesting from companies complicit in Palestinian human rights abuses, boycotting Israeli universities and institutions and publicly condemning what organizers and human rights experts call a genocide in Gaza.

According to a report issued by a United Nations-appointed expert, there are “reasonable grounds” to believe Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

Encampments have been organized by students across Canada and the United States to show support of Palestine.

Students at Columbia University were the first group in the United States to start an encampment on April 17. On April 27, protestors at McGill University started an encampment, the first at a Canadian university.

Capuchin, a community member involved in the encampment, encouraged people to attend the encampment and that the encampment’s focus is to “recentre attention toward the Palestinian cause and toward the genocide in Gaza.”

Matthew Ramsey, acting senior director of UBC media relations, wrote in a statement to The Ubyssey that UBC understands “that some in our community want to protest the violence and war they see unfolding.

Ramsey also wrote that any actions that create “a health and safety risk, impede the university community … from learning, research, work and other activities on campus or damage university property” will be investigated. UBC has not taken any action so far to remove the encampment.

In 2022, UBC rejected calls from student groups such as the AMS, Students for Palestinian Human Rights and the UBC Social Justice Centre, to divest from companies complicit in Palestinian human rights violations and endorse the boycott, divest, sanction (BDS) movement.

In December 2023, UBC President Benoit-Antoine Bacon reaffirmed UBC does not support BDS.

According to the press release from the organizers, “Attendees stand in solidarity with those steadfast in resistance in Palestine, and demand the university to condemn the ongoing genocide.”

“Just come and show up, however you’re comfortable. Stay however long you want,” said Capuchin. “We're staying here until UBC recognizes our demands.”