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Judge approves UQAM's injunction against pro-Palestinian encampment

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A judge has approved, in part, Université du Québec à Montréal's (UQAM) request for a provisional injunction against the pro-Palestinian encampment on its grounds.

"It is essential that appropriate security measures be put in place immediately to prevent an unfortunate event from occurring and causing UQAM serious or irreparable harm," the judge stated in his ruling Monday.

This comes after Superior Court Judge Louis-Joseph Gouin heard arguments from both parties at a hearing at the Montreal courthouse last Friday.

In its request, UQAM did not ask for the complete dismantling of the encampment; rather, it says it wants to ensure free circulation near the science complex.

In a press release, management noted that "access and emergency exits to university buildings are obstructed, several exterior surveillance cameras are obstructed, and the situation on and near the encampment has deteriorated overall."

"It is increasingly barricaded, certain materials that have been accumulated there present risks, surfaces of certain pavilions have been vandalized, and hooded groups circulate there night and day," the school stated.

The ruling orders demonstrators to create a two-metre space between the camp and the buildings in the courtyard, including around the Pavillon Cœur des sciences, "to not hinder the circulation of people using the space."

They must make sure all doors and windows remain unobstructed "of any objects and materials" and "refrain in the future from placing any object" that blocks the area.

The demonstrators must remove any cardboard blocking surveillance cameras in the courtyard and "never obstruct them again in any way whatsoever."

The group must also allow representatives of UQAM and the Montreal fire department to visit the encampment to verify that the area is safe. 

"These security measures will not interfere with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, including the right to demonstrate," Gouin notes in his judgement.

He adds the measures will "reduce the size of the encampment" without affecting the people's right to demonstrate.

"These safety measures are to everyone's advantage in the present circumstances," he states. "Not implementing these measures would continue to create serious safety issues for UQAM." 

Since May 12, pro-Palestinian demonstrators have been camping out near UQAM's Complexe des sciences Pierre-Dansereau, following in the footsteps of similar rallies elsewhere in Canada and the United States.

Participants are demanding that UQAM break its ties with Israeli institutions and reveal the extent of these relationships.

They are also calling on the Quebec government to reverse its decision to open the Quebec office in Tel Aviv.

For its part, UQAM asserts that its foundation has "no investment in armaments," nor does it have "mobility or framework agreements with Israeli universities."

Two requests for injunctions concerning the pro-Palestinian camp set up on the McGill University campus were rejected in recent weeks.

McGill's request for an interlocutory injunction is expected back in court on July 25.

A request for a permanent injunction is expected to be heard at a later date.

-- with files from The Canadian Press.

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