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Asia Pacific Report

Thousands of students across Aotearoa New Zealand protested in a nationwide rally at seven universities across the country in a global day of solidarity with Palestine, calling on their universities to divest all partnerships with Israel.

A combined group of students and academic staff from the country’s two largest universities chanted “AUT take a stand” at their rally in the Hikuwai Plaza in the heart of Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

Students from the neighbouring University of Auckland (UOA) also took part.

The students carried placards such as “Educators against genocide”, “Stand for students. Stand for justice. Stand with Palestine”, “Maite Te Awa Ki Te Moana” – te reo for “From the river to the sea – Free Palestine”.

Another sign said, “No universities left in Gaza”, referring to Israeli military forces having destroyed all 12 universities in the besieged enclave during the war now in its eighth month.

“We urge all students, alumni, and staff from universities across Aotearoa to sign the University Students’ Open Letter,” said organisers.

“Let’s hold our institutions accountable, demanding they meet our calls for action and adhere to the guidelines of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

‘Gross injustices’
“Together, we can push for change and recognise Israel’s violations for what they are — gross injustices against humanity.

“Stand with us in this global movement of solidarity with Palestine.”

"No universities left in Gaza"
“No universities left in Gaza” . . . because Israel bombed or destroyed all 12. Image: David Robie/APR

The rally was in support of thousands of students around the world demonstrating against the Israeli genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Their aim with their universities:

* Declare and recognise Palestine as an independent and sovereign state;
* Disclose and divest all partnerships with Israel; and
* Denounce antisemitism, Islamophobia and all forms of discrimination.

Ali, the “voice of Free Palestine”.      Video: Café Pacific

A declaration said that the nationwide protest expressed “our unapologetic solidarity with Palestinians and our commitment to the Palestinian struggle for liberation “.

“We refuse to be silent or complicit in genocide, and we reject all forms of cooperation between our institutions and the Israeli state.

"End the genocide"
“End the genocide” . . . a watermelon protest. Image: David Robie/APR

‘Major win’ at Melbourne University
Meanwhile, in Melbourne pro-Palestine protesters who occupied a university building last week called off their encampment.

Protest leaders told a media conference at the University of Melbourne that had agreed to end the protest after the institution had agreed to disclose research partnerships with weapons manufacturers.

“After months of campaigning, rallies, petitions, meetings and in recent weeks, the encampment, the University of Melbourne has finally agreed to meet an important demand of our campaign,” a spokesperson later told the ABC.

“This is a major win.”

Some of the protesting students at AUT university's Hikuwai Plaza
Some of the protesting students at AUT University’s Hikuwai Plaza today. Image: David Robie/APR
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