University of Birmingham issues statement as students continue pro-Palestine camp

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Here is the latest statement from the University of Birmingham

Pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of Birmingham have vowed to stay put despite being threatened with police action after setting up an encampment.

Dozens of UK universities have been staging demonstrations after similar camps appeared in the United States. The Birmingham university is believed to be the first to warn students of legal action if they do not shut down their action.

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But protesters at the camp in Edgbaston said they did not believe they had broken any laws and vowed to stay put despite facing possible arrest.

One student, who would only give her name as JJ, said: "We haven't been threatened with aggravated trespassing as of yet.

"We have had a letter that has been given to us and members of the public to say they should clear the encampment. This is our campus and we intend to be here peacefully and legally, we've had no communication about any trespassing.

"We want our rights to peaceful protests protected. We are an accessible and inclusive encampment. We are students who have exams and we don't want to be here. We want to work with the university with no hostility.

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Another student, who would only give her name as Robin, added: "We are a peaceful camp and we are not disrupting other students, so we will stay put.”

Pro-Palestine camp at the University of Birmingham's main Edgbaston campusPro-Palestine camp at the University of Birmingham's main Edgbaston campus
Pro-Palestine camp at the University of Birmingham's main Edgbaston campus | SWNS

Another student, who did not wish to be named, added: "We won't be going anywhere. What we are doing is fair and just. How can we trespass on our own campus anyway? We pay for the right to be here and deserve to have our voices heard.

"We are not being noisy or disruptive, we are just standing up for what we believe in. We won't go away that easily just because of one letter."

University statement

A University of Birmingham spokesperson said:  "A small group of tents has been set up on campus by individuals protesting in support of Palestine. "The university is operating as normal with exams and other activity continuing as planned. The University of Birmingham recognises that students will wish to take part in protests about issues that they care deeply about. "There are many ways in which this can be done lawfully, and the profile of a cause raised. Our Freedom of Speech Code of Practice sets out how we support this, including through authorised demonstrations.

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"However, this does not include setting up tents on university property where there is no permission or authority to do so. "We are monitoring the situation to ensure safety and minimise disruption, including to students who are currently studying for and taking exams, and other education and wider university activities. We ask that the protestors also respect this. "Our university community includes staff, students and visitors from a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs. "Everyone has the right to go about their business safely and free from intimidation or harassment and we will not tolerate any form of discrimination or racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. "We maintain regular discussions with a range of student and staff representatives to listen to their views and ensure that they feel supported. We have a wide range of support available to students and staff."

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