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At the Stirling University Students Association (SUSA) referendum on Tuesday 18th of October students will be voting on whether to support Palestinian students by twinning with Birzeit University students and publicly condemning the illegal Israeli occupation that hinders their right to education.
The ‘Support the Right to Education Campaign’ motion was passed by a huge majority at the SUSA Senate with a number of students very unclear as how to vote initially. When talking about the debate after the SUSA Senate, second year student Mark Cullen said “I was one of the few people who actually entered the senate undecided on this issue. Far too frequently people enter these debates already set on what they will vote for. That is not a debate. ItÂ’s an argument. Tonight I learned a great deal, and voted based on what I heard.”
The motion asks SUSA to twin with Birzeit University students council and to lobby Stirling University to officially twin with the Palestinian university near Ramallah in the West Bank. It also states that, if passed, SUSA will publicly support the Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University and condemn the illegal occupation, the illegal wall and the illegal settlements which prevent peace being achieved.
This latter part of the motion which condemns actions of the Israeli state has been seen as controversial for some people, but not for 19 year old student Hannah Williamson who states. “I would just like to say that I feel that condemning the illegal actions of a government in its attempts to oppress a people and take away their human rights is far from radical. ItÂ’s the least we should be doing!
University of Stirling Alumni, Tommy Sheridan MSP said that on behalf of the SSP he would like “to congratulate Stirling University on winning a vote to have a referendum on twinning the university with Birzeit University in Palestine.” Sheridan went on to say “If Stirling University agrees to be twinned with Birzeit University, it will be a significant step in recognising the vicious oppression the entire Palestinian people has suffered in its struggle to live in peace and safety in their own land and their determination, particularly of young Palestinians, to secure a democratic and secure future for their nation. Such an international partnership would document the solidarity that exists between young people in Scotland and those in Palestine and serve as an important signal to the Palestinians to carry on their justified struggle.” Other MSP’s have come out in support, including Linda Fabiani of the SNP, Mark Ruskell and Robin Harper of the Green Party as well as Dennis Cannavan.
A representative of Stirling Palestine Solidarity Campaign said “We are not here to debate the existence of the State of Israel – we are here in support of a Palestinian state. We believe everyone has the right to an education and to freedom from the threat of violence, and that the two are directly linked and cannot be separated. We hope that by showing solidarity and support, this motion will help bring about justice for the Palestinian people, and the chance for all people to eventually live without terror.”
Helen Murray of Birzeit University’s Right to Education campaign said “Birzeit University and the Right to Education Campaign support the efforts of Stirling University students in opposing Israel’s illegal and violent occupation and its attacks against and obstruction of Palestinian education. As recognized in the motions to Stirling University Students Association (SUSA), it is very important for the students of Birzeit to know that they are supported by their fellow students around the world. Ultimately, as the motion put to SUSA emphasize, the struggle for the right to education is a struggle for all human rights. There can be no academic freedom -or any other kind of freedom – without an end to the occupation. Finally, we would like to underline how important it is that that the students and people of Scotland stand beside us in the struggle for a free Palestine and all our hopes for a peaceful future based on equality, democracy and justice. It is to this end that we look forward to building a bridge of friendship between the students of Stirling and Birzeit Universities.”