Protest at University of Manchester disrupts exam timetable after pro-Palestinian group occupies campus building

28 May 2024, 11:39 | Updated: 28 May 2024, 14:39

Pro-Palestinian protesters have forced the University of Manchester to move exams after occupying a campus building.

The university said demonstrators, linked to the nearby Encampment of Resistance for Palestine, "unlawfully barricaded" Whitworth Hall over the weekend.

After the group "refused" to vacate the premises to allow student exams to proceed, and after police stopped more students entering on Monday night, the University of Manchester said exam contingency plans have been activated.

Students will now sit their exams in different locations and have been emailed new arrangements.

The university said that the actions of the protesters were "deeply disappointing" and added: "Deliberately disrupting exams clearly violates the standards of behaviour and conduct from students, as outlined in our Student Charter and student disciplinary regulations."

The university also said it has contacted Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue about the occupation and its risks - "which go well beyond those we have seen previously".

Those occupying Whitworth Hall demand that the university opens negotiations over ending its partnership with BAE Systems - a British defence company that has supplied weapons to Israel - as well as on cutting ties with Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Protesters have also demanded no disciplinary action is taken against those involved in the encampment, occupations or other demonstrations.

Over the weekend, the protest group issued a statement reiterating their demands and said: "We have full control of this building, which is due to hold hundreds of students for exams next week.

"We will not leave until the university commit to not disciplining any student protesters and enter negotiations on the other demands."

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It marks the latest in a series of ongoing protests against the war in Gaza by students across the US and Europe.

On Thursday last week, 16 University of Oxford students were arrested by police after organising a sit-in at a campus building.

Footage posted online by the Oxford Action for Palestine group showed police pushing protesters from the steps of the office building.

Student encampments are still in place in Cambridge and have also been seen in Newcastle, Bristol, Dublin and Leeds.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Joe Biden have denied what is going on in Gaza is genocide.

Mr Netanyahu has also remained committed to continuing the military action that began after the Hamas attack on 7 October, which killed around 1,200 people. Hamas fighters also took hundreds of hostages.

Since the 7 October attack, Israel's response in Gaza has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.