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The camp at UQAM will end when the university accepts the protesters’ demands

The pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) is falling after the university’s board of directors unanimously approved a resolution accepting most of the demands of protesters who have settled there since May 12 .

“Through our occupation and our courage, we have shown that it is possible to establish a balance of power and make significant progress,” a spokesman for the protesters said in a statement.

“We are sending a clear message to other university administrations. If they want to see an end to the camps, they must take bold action,” they said.

Protesters say dismantling will occur progressively in the coming days, but that most of the camp will remain in place until a meeting of UQAM’s academic council scheduled for June 4, where the agreement will be voted on and finalized.

They say that if all goes well at that meeting, the camp will be completely dismantled by June 6.

A white person wearing a red kuffiyeh, a surgical mask and a black hoodie smokes a cigarette next to a purple sign that says "free zone."
UQAM reached an agreement with those in the pro-Palestinian camp on its campus, who say they will leave on June 6. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The university released a copy of the resolution adopted Thursday morning. No one from the UQAM administration was immediately available for comment.

Among the various demands the university has accepted:

  • Asking the UQAM Foundation to ensure that it does not have direct investments in arms companies.
  • Calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
  • Commit to facilitating the reception of Palestinian academics and students and provide a budget for this purpose.

Although UQAM did not explicitly commit to an academic boycott of Israel, it “recognizes the violation of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.” It also recognizes the decisions of the International Court of Justice, which refer to plausible risks of genocide committed by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza.

Two people in kuffiyehs walk past a large sign that says "World intifada of insurgent peoples" with a painted image of a guerrilla militant
UQAM heeded protesters’ demands that the university ensure it had no direct investments in arms companies, called for a ceasefire in Gaza, and pledged to facilitate the reception of Palestinian academics and students. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Protesters say that by pointing out violations of international law by Israel and demanding that there be no academic agreements that conflict with international law, the resolution “implicitly” boycotts Israeli universities.

“There are no universities in Israel that do not in some way violate international law and aid and abet the Israeli war machine,” Niall Clapham Ricardo, a spokesman for the camp and Independent Jewish Voices, told reporters at a news conference. conference on Thursday.

Camp spokesmen called UQAM’s resolution a “highly symbolic step forward” and said its activism will not end there. They will continue to support camps at other Quebec universities and push for Palestinian liberation at the provincial level, they said.

A protest against the Tel Aviv office in Quebec is planned for June 6.

Pascale Déry, Quebec’s higher education minister, told reporters Thursday that all campus encampments should be dismantled.

“I don’t think it’s the appropriate place to protest. I think there is another way we can express ourselves,” he said, adding that he will follow developments closely.

McGill doesn’t move

Meanwhile, negotiations between McGill University and those camping on its campus have not moved forward.

McGill president Deep Saini has insisted that divestment from companies with ties to Israel – the protesters’ main demand – was off the table. However, the university is willing to “examine divestment from companies whose revenues largely come from weapons.” McGill has also offered to increase its support for displaced Palestinian academics and institutions.

Protesters have repeatedly said they will not act until McGill commits to full divestment and an academic boycott of Israel.

On Wednesday, Saini expressed concern about rising tensions on campus and once again called on the police to intervene, as he previously did with some of the protesters at UQAM. Montreal Police Chief Fady Dagher told CBC Montreal Sunrise On Thursday he did not want to aggravate the situation.

Two applications for interim injunctive relief were filed to remove student activists from the McGill campus, both of which were rejected by Quebec Superior Court judges. The university will go to court again this summer to ask for the camp to be dismantled.

Protesters at the UQAM camp hope McGill will listen to the message they are sending.

“Police interventions or going to court are not the way forward. The way forward is to negotiate with the students and cut ties with Israel,” Clapham Ricardo said.

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