McGill University ending negotiations with pro-Palestinian encampment on its campus

“It is McGill administration who is the unwilling partner,” says Rama with Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights McGill, as the university announced its ending talks with members of the pro-Palestinian encampment. Swidda Rassy reports.

By The Canadian Press & News Staff

McGill University says it is ending negotiations with pro-Palestinian activists who are occupying the lower field of its downtown Montreal campus.

The university says in a statement on Tuesday that it will pursue disciplinary action against people participating in the encampment.

McGill president Deep Saini says it has become clear that talks with the activists are going nowhere. 

Saini adds that the university will still consider divesting from weapons manufacturers and disclosing more of its investments.  

At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at the encampment site, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) McGill said that students won’t be moved.

“This exploration has already been done through divestment campaigns that students have been leading for 20 years,” said Rama, spokesperson with SPHR McGill.

“Students have reiterated that they will not be moved and that they will continue sustaining this encampment, as well as their organizational efforts for Palestine until their demands are met,” she added.

The statement says the encampment has led to harassment and intimidation of students and faculty, and that the university will continue to request help from police. 

On Monday, Montreal police Inspector David Shane said the encampment is a civil dispute and they don’t yet have a legal basis to intervene. 

“With regards to the camp at McGill University, we’d like to remind you that the university has applied to the Superior Court for an injunction to order its dismantling,” he said.

Some elected officials and Jewish community groups have denounced a social media post from SPHR McGill, in which the image shows a handful of people reading books with firearms present.

Montreal police said they are investigating and have involved the RCMP.

The Instagram post promotes a four-week program, launching on Monday, that teaches the history of Palestinian resistance, the current political climate, and other related topics.

“This image is a symbolic and historical photo that depicts the relationship between study and struggle,” said Rama.

The photo in question is said to have been originally taken in 1970 of fighters with the Palestine Liberation Organization reading copies of Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung in Jordan. The fighters are holding books and assault rifles.

Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights McGill (SPHR)
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) McGill

press release from Saini called the post “extremely alarming” adding that it has attracted international media attention.

The university says they will be increasing security and pursuing legal action to bar SPHR from using the “McGill” name on social media.

McGill is also calling on other student groups to distance themselves from the SPHR.

The camp has been setup on the lower field of the downtown Montreal campus since April 27.

The university has suggested bringing in a mediator however, Rama believes this was simply a tactic used to delay negotiations.

“Our demands have been made clear. We are demanding material steps towards divestments. They have the ability and the power to do so. They are actively refusing to,” said Rama.

“It is McGill administration who is the unwilling partner here. It is McGill administration who is refusing to answer the demands of their student body.”

-With files from The Canadian Press

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