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SOAS occupied!

January 14th, 2009 · post by Fred Goodsell · 4 Comments

On the 13th January students began the occupation of the Brunei Gallery Suite of the SOAS, University of London.

A notice of intent has been posted outlining reasons and demands for the occupation.


1. The illegal occupation of Palestinian land and the atrocities being committed by Israel.
2. The racist exhibition on display in the Brunei Gallery, hosted by the Ministry of Defense.
3. The privatisation of university space.

“What are we calling for?

 1.The SOAS director to issue a statement condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza.
2.For the MoD exhibition to be shut down.
3. Greater control of university space for students.
4. For other students to join us here and in similar demonstrations at other universities.

“With these issues in mind, we are re-appropriating the Brunei suite, hosting a series of speakers, teach-ins and an alternative exhibition, which presents a balanced and unbiased view of the history of the ethnic minorities in the British army.

“We will not be admitting to this space and uniformed presence (Police, MoD, Security). Everyone else is welcome to join us if possible, to share ideas and opinions, and to display solidarity with the people of Gaza.


On the 7th January (pre-occupation) the Director and Principal of SOAS released a message at in response to requests made by students and teachers for a  formal statement condemning the attacks on Gaza. The response was a refusal to make any sort of condemnation stating “I believe it would be inappropriate for me to make such a statement on behalf of the School” followed by “However, I do wish to express on behalf of myself and the School heartfelt concern and sympathy for all those affected by the current conflict and sincerely hope that the growing calls from the international community for an immediate ceasefire on both sides are swiftly heeded” The full message can be read here.

The gallery claims to be “dedicated to showing work of and from Asia and Africa, of both a historical and contemporary nature. This is as part of the Gallery’s aim to present and promote cultures from these regions.”

According to an indymedia report “The Ministry of Defence exhibition which was in the building has been officially shut down and MoD officials will collect their displays tomorrow. “

→ 4 CommentsThis entry belongs to the following categories: News · notes of resistance

4 responses so far

  • gdm posted:
    Jan 14, 2009 at 5:00 pm. Comment #1

    Director and Principal of SOAS have released a message at concerning the Gaza conflict and refusing to make any sort of condemnation stating “I believe it would be inappropriate for me to make such a statement on behalf of the School”. The full message can be read here.”

    Thats not quite true as the message from the Director is dated 07 January 2009, i.e. the week before the SOAS occupation began..

  • Tom Fiction posted:
    Jan 14, 2009 at 5:21 pm. Comment #2

    It was never meant to suggest that his message was in response to the occupation but I will amend the article to make this clearer.

  • syed posted:
    Jan 14, 2009 at 6:27 pm. Comment #3

    way to go guys…gr8 job

  • Tom Fiction posted:
    Jan 15, 2009 at 7:00 pm. Comment #4

    Update from indymedia:

    Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) occupying the Brunei Gallery (Ministry of Defence Exhibition) in solidarity with Gaza have declared victory after winning significant demands from the university management.

    These include an agreement that there will be no military on campus without prior consultation with the student union. A motion passed yesterday by the student union opposes all military presence on campus. It stands for the next five years.

    The occupying students will also have exclusive use of the gallery space until end of day Friday. This time will be used to hold meetings on issues related to Israel’s assault on Gaza, such as boycotting Israeli goods and Israeli war crimes.

    University authorities have also agreed that students will be able use the lecture theatre and gallery for their own use throughout the year. Previously the rooms cost £1,000 to hire for a day – though the Ministry of Defence got it for free.

    There will be no repercussions for the students involved in the occupation of the gallery. The mood here remains defiant and ready to ramp up the campaign for solidarity with Palestinians.