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University of California, Irvine administration suspends pro-Palestine students

By David Pulido

Palestine solidarity encampment at University of California, Irivne.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Irvine, CA – “We demand amnesty for student protesters!” said a Palestinian student organizer at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Gaza solidarity encampment. “We’ve made it clear that we are not leaving until all of our demands are met. If anything, the student suspensions have only made us more determined to stay and hold our ground, because this fight is bigger than us. It’s a fight against genocide and our tuition money going towards the weapons that are murdering Palestinians by the Israeli government!”

She was one of many voices rallying the community to defend the encampment from campus administration, who suspended numerous students, including three members of the encampment’s negotiating team on Wednesday, May 8. She explained that negotiations are on hold, since the administration suspended members of the negotiation team and is not negotiating in good faith.

Community Service Organization Orange County (CSO OC) member Daniel Jimenez spoke about the bravery of the student activists, “The students within the encampment give me lots of hope and encouragement. Their spirits remained high even after the news of the shameful suspension of some of their peers by UCI, which sparked more passion and fire to their flame. I am proud of them – they are risking possibly their whole life and career simply for standing against genocide. May they remain strong and keep on regardless of the consequences!”

Dr. Haifaa Younis, an obstetrician and gynecologist returning from seven months of medical practice in Palestine, was invited to speak on the horrific conditions Palestinians face due to Israeli attacks and starvation tactics. The contrast between medical practice in the West and in occupied Palestine was sharp, as she described how physicians lacked basic tools like monitors, blood pressure cuffs, or even gloves, which had to be used repeatedly while operating on several patients. “You really have to be extremely creative to save lives there,” said Younis.

Younis spoke of a woman in her seventies who came in, “then there comes in three girls whose house was just bombed. There were four; one girl was dead. So, you have enough to handle one patient. They looked at me and said, if the old woman dies, she’s 75. She’s lived her life. We can save only one.” Ultimately, one of the girl’s arms was amputated and the other’s leg was saved.

Younis also spoke of the incredible resilience of the Palestinian people.

Emma Gottfried of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) said, “It was powerful hearing Dr. Younis speak about the strength and spirit of the Palestinian people, who are undergoing intense and extreme hardship due to the IOF's genocidal attacks. How families who lost everything are still surviving in the face of such conditions.”

A central theme of Younis’s speech was on international solidarity. Describing the work of students in the U.S., Younis said, “You have lit a fire which is spreading across the whole world,” and that “fighting for others is what makes us fully human.”

Tarps were rolled out as the sound of prayer filled the nighttime campus. A student organizer reaffirmed her commitment to the cause, stating, “We’re here because there’s not only been a genocide but also 76 years of occupation. An occupation that has murdered over 35,000 people, and that’s not even counting the people under the rubble or who haven’t been found, or whose bodies are completely gone! The students are going to stay here. The students are going to fight. And even if everyone quit, I would be the last person standing here because I’m Palestinian, and I’m also a human being.”

#IrvineCA #CA #AntiWarMovement #International #MiddleEast #Palestine #StudentMovement #FRSO #CSOOC