Nakba Day demonstration and Academic Boycott in Catalunya

Today, on the 66th anniversary of Nakba (Arabic term for “catastrophe” or “disaster”, used to refer to the Palestinian exodus after creation of the state of Israel) we took part in a peaceful demonstration aiming to draw attention to the plan of the academic collaboration between Catalan and Israeli scientific institutions. The event was a part of a “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – Academics for Palestine” campaign, carried out all over the world.

Now a bit of background (after NegocisOcults), and why did we actually meet: “Over the last year the Convergence and Union government (Catalan nationalist electoral alliance) has promoted all kinds of agreements with Israeli companies and institutions. Catalan society has expressed its disagreement for such collaboration as it supports the Apartheid system that millions of Palestinians live in. However, there was no response to questions and requests the people have sent. Hundreds of signatures were collected from academic teachers from Catalan universities, students and employees unions, urging the government not to cooperate with the Israeli institutions. The manifesto and the campaign supporters’ signatures can be found under the link http://pebai.wordpress.com. However, there was no will to meet us and discuss these requests so far.”

Among the postulates of the campaign, there is a demand that all agreements signed with Israeli companies and institutions under the aegis of government will be made public. We also demand respecting human rights. This means ensuring that none of these agreements will involve the military, defense or security industry or the companies and institutions involved in the occupation and colonization of the Palestinian land, as it would contravene the guidelines adopted by the European Union in July 2013. In addition, the academic boycott campaign condemns establishing of the partnerships with Israeli academic institutions as the state of Israel does not respect international law and United Nations declarations.

On 15th of May we met at pl. Urquinaona, to show to the Catalan government that, by its actions, it is complicit in the occupation and colonization of the Palestinian land. There were around 80 of us, including the Palestinian deputy in the Knesset Zoabi Hannen, everyone carrying Palestinian symbols, flags, keffiyeh… A part of the event was to paint our palms in red, a color symbolizing blood that the members of the Catalan government have on their hands when planning and executing the collaboration program.

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After the gathering we marched to the Governmental Secretariat of Universities and Research. We entered the building chanting. The manifesto and the postulates were read out loud.

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Finally, a delegation of our representatives met with the chief of the institution, and handed him the signed petition. As the result of the meeting, we achieved the commitment of a meeting on June 4th with Antoni Castellà – the Secretary of Universities of the Catalan Government. We were also assured that the agreements with Israeli universities will be made public as well as that a clause to stop relations with companies or institutions linked to the illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank will be taken into consideration.

A press release from the event with more photos can be found under the link: http://bit.ly/1gbfuMN [in Spanish].

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