Humboldt University: Management issues ultimatum for pro-Palestinian occupiers

Pro-Palestinian protest
University management gives occupiers an ultimatum, the police are ready to evict the building

“Unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian people,” demand the pro-Palestinian demonstrators who have occupied the social science institute of Berlin’s Humboldt University

© Rolf Zöllner / Imago Images

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators have occupied rooms at Berlin’s Humboldt University, and negotiations are underway to end the action. Meanwhile, criticism of the occupation is increasing and criminal charges have already been filed.

Radical pro-Palestinian activists want Berliners’ spaces Occupy Humboldt University until their demands are met. A spokeswoman for the occupiers told the German Press Agency that they wanted to negotiate an extension of the occupation at a planned discussion event with the university management on Thursday afternoon.

The police were ready to end the occupation and remove the activists if the university did not extend its tolerance beyond Thursday evening and demand an evacuation. Among other things, there were chants with reference to Palestine and some with forbidden content, they said.

Activists chant “Free Palestine”

Police and demonstrators stood in front of the occupied Institute of Social Sciences on Thursday. Banners hung on the building, including one with the words “Free Palestine”. In the courtyard behind a fence, several dozen occupiers stood and sat, some of them masked with Palestinian scarves. They chanted “Viva Palestine” and “Yallah Intifada”. Intifada refers to a series of attacks and terrorist attacks by Palestinians in Israel and is also interpreted as a call to violence.

According to the activist spokeswoman, around 100 squatters stayed overnight in the institute. The university tolerates the occupation until Thursday at 6 p.m., as university spokeswoman Christiane Rosenbach said. She couldn’t say what the next steps would be. “It’s a dynamic situation,” she said.

The CDU criticized the toleration because it could be misunderstood as encouragement for further crimes, said Burkard Dregger, domestic policy spokesman for the CDU parliamentary group. “There is no room for hatred and anti-Semitism in Berlin and at our universities. We will not allow errant activists to abuse our research facilities as a stage.”

There are several hundred demonstrators

The SPD parliamentary group called for “an end to criminal acts and damage to property”. “Occupations must not lead to long-term situations; that makes them more difficult for the police to deal with. (…) Dialogue about the Middle East conflict is easier to establish without illegal actions.”

Criticism also came from the police union (GdP). “The autonomy of teaching applies and universities in particular should be seen as a place for exchange and discussion,” emphasized spokesman Benjamin Jendro. But that is not a basis for legitimation to move outside the democratic framework, shout anti-Semitic and inhumane slogans, hold up anti-constitutional posters and commit property damage.

The demonstrators occupied the rooms on Wednesday in protest against Israel and in support of the Palestinians. According to police, around 300 people demonstrated in front of the university. During the protests, 23 pro-Palestinian activists were briefly arrested in order to establish their identities. They were 18 men and 5 women, the police announced on Thursday. 25 criminal investigations were initiated, including for the use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations, damage to property and resistance to the police.

Occupiers demand arms embargo against Israel

The occupiers of the group called Student Coalition Berlin accuse Israel of “genocide” and “ongoing mass murders” in a statement. They say it is about “unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian people.” Among other things, they are demanding that Berlin universities work for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Israel and put pressure on the German government. The government should impose an arms embargo on Israel and end all military, financial and diplomatic aid to Israel.

The conflict in the Middle East has now reached German universities. There are repeated protests against Israel’s actions in the Gaza war and actions by students in solidarity with the Palestinians. An occupation at the Free University of Berlin a few weeks ago was broken up by the police.

After the Hamas massacre in Israel on October 7, which left more than 1,200 people dead, more than 35,000 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza war that followed, according to the Hamas-controlled health authority, although the figure, which is difficult to verify independently, does not distinguish between civilians and fighters.


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