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Pro-Palestinian protesters at UQAM agree to dismantle encampment, say demands met

Activists who have been occupying part of the campus at UQAM since mid-May are expected to dismantle their encampment within the next week. (Angela Mackenzie/CTV News) Activists who have been occupying part of the campus at UQAM since mid-May are expected to dismantle their encampment within the next week. (Angela Mackenzie/CTV News)
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Pro-Palestinian protesters at Universite du Quebec a Montreal said Thursday they will dismantle their encampment by the end of next week after the university agreed to many of their demands.

After occupying part of the university's campus for nearly three weeks, one of the activist groups involved with the encampment declared a resolution adopted by the university Wednesday a "historic victory."

Since the encampment started on May 12, protesters demanded that the university disclose its links to Israel and cut ties with Israeli institutions.

The university's resolution adopted unanimously during a special meeting of its board of directors calls for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and condemns any attack on educational institutions in the Palestinian territories.

It pledges that the university will not enter academic agreements with other universities, including in Israel, that don't respect international humanitarian law. It also requests that the UQAM Fondation disclose its investments each year and hold no direct investments in companies profiting from weapons manufacturing.

"With this historic mobilization, we are sending a clear message to the administrations of other universities," student Leila Khaled, a member of the activist group Universite populaire Al-Aqsa de l'UQAM, told a news conference on Thursday.

"If you want to see an end to the encampments, you must take courageous action to cease all complicity with the Zionist state and its genocidal acts against the Palestinian people," Khaled said.

The group says it plans to clear out the encampment no later than June 6, after the academic council gathers on June 4 votes on whether to support an academic boycott of Israel.

Niall Clapham Ricardo, a student at UQAM and spokesperson for Independent Jewish Voices, says he's confident the academic council will throw its support behind the boycott.

He says if other universities want to see encampments dismantled they need to follow UQAM's example and negotiate with students rather than trying to get them forcibly removed by police or the courts.

On Monday, a Quebec Superior Court granted the Universite du Quebec a Montreal a partial injunction against protesters who it said had set up about 40 tents in the inner courtyard of its science complex.

Justice Louis J. Gouin ruled that safety measures needed to be put in place at the encampment, and that doing so wouldn't infringe on the encampment members' right to protest. Among the measures was an order that tents and other material had to be at least two metres from campus buildings.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 30, 2024.

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