ACOD UGent calls for non-violent dialogue and opposes plans of rector to evacuate the UFO

Submitted by ACOD UGent on vr, 05/24/2024 - 19:46

For several weeks now, a peaceful occupation has been going on in the UFO building of Ghent University by students who advocate ending ties between Ghent University and institutions in Israel. We previously published our position on this: we support the demand to sever ties with Israeli institutions that cooperate with or support the Israeli army or government. Particularly in view of the recent indictments by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, we believe that at least as long as war violence continues, any form of cooperation must be suspended.

Today an action took place at the rectorate. The majority of the activists took action in the car park of the rectorate, a limited group entered the building. 

In his communication about these events, the rector speaks of “serious vandalism and major material damage” and “violence of which several Ghent University employees have been victims”. 

After an inspection visit to the rectorate, ACOD determined that the damage consists of paint on the outside wall at the front and back of the building. 

We also spoke to a number of stakeholders from both sides about the events this morning. It has so far emerged that there would have been a fall involving a security guard and a student, and that a Ghent University staff member who was responsible for blocking the passage would have been pushed to the ground while coming into contact with an elbow. 

If these things did indeed happen, we strongly condemn this. We firmly speak out against violence during actions. At the same time, we ask that the actions of a few hotheads are not blamed on the vast majority of activists who continue to protest peacefully. 

ACOD therefore opposes the announced evacuation of the UFO. This would represent an unacceptable escalation and would risk leading to further violence. We do not want the actions of a few individuals to be used to target the entire group of peaceful activists and to thus justify a - potentially violent - eviction. As a trade union, we cannot accept this and we call for continued action in a peaceful manner and for dialogue with the occupiers.