Die-In at Graduation

15 May 2024

Today, on the 13th day of the Oxford Action for Palestine Gaza Solidarity Encampment, we have escalated our action-- a direct response to University inaction. We have laid our bodies on the ground in blood-soaked academic dress outside graduation ceremonies at Oxford's famed Sheldonian Theatre, the ceremonial epicenter of the University. Each of us represents thousands of Palestinians whose lives and futures have been destroyed in the israeli genocide of Palestinians. There are no more universities in Gaza, no more graduations, and no more milestones. Higher education has been systematically destroyed in a campaign that has targeted every aspect of Palestinian life in Gaza. In the past seven months: 5,479 students, 261 teachers, 95 professors, and three university presidents have been murdered in israel's genocidal campaign. We are escalating for Gaza, and our die-in is the next step in refocusing the University's attention on Palestine.

There can be no business as usual during genocide. The University must not be allowed to forget this, and we will escalate to disrupt its functioning until they join us at the negotiating table and until our demands are met.

The support for the Gaza Solidarity Encampment and its demands has been widespread and continues to grow by the hour. Fourteen trade unions and union councils, including the Oxford UCU, have given their resounding endorsement. Over 550 faculty and staff have signed a letter to stand firmly in support of the encampment and our demands and, in just two days, 1200+ students of the University have joined the Student Open Letter campaign alongside motions passed across 30 Oxford college student associations. The message the city is sending is clear: students, faculty, staff, local residents, and our broader coalition in Oxford overwhelmingly demand action to end the University's role in facilitating israel's genocidal assault on Gaza.

Despite the overwhelming support for our movement, the University has repeatedly refused to meet and discuss our urgent demands. Their silence is disgraceful in the context of israel's intensified attacks on Gaza. Rafah and Khan Younis face ongoing bombardment as israel corners and displaces Palestinians in the south of Gaza. israel has leveled refugee camps, medical clinics, and schools. A seventh mass grave was discovered in a Gaza hospital one week ago. Jabalia refugee camp is also suffering the seventh day of continuous israeli aggression, where 70% of homes, infrastructure, and services have been completely destroyed.

The University must enter negotiations with Oxford Action for Palestine based on the preconditions that have been communicated to them this morning. We wait to engage in the 'constructive dialogue' for which Vice-Chancellor Tracey called in her wider response to the University. If our escalation is met with continued silence, we are committed to continued mobilisation. We will not rest until our demands are met. All eyes on Gaza.