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Pro-Palestinian protesters dismantle camp at University of Ottawa

Pro-Palestinian protesters dismantle camp at University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa reports that pro-Palestinian protesters have dismantled a camp on campus that had been in place for two months.

The University of Ottawa reports that pro-Palestinian protesters have dismantled a camp on campus that had been in place for two months.

According to the president of the university, Jacques Frémont, the camp site is currently in a “deplorable state” and the school will restore the area. He accuses the protesters of vandalizing the area before they left.

“We condemn the acts of vandalism committed by the protesters before leaving the site,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Over the past two months, we have managed the risks surrounding the unauthorized encampments on university grounds while engaging in open dialogue in good faith with student organizers to find peaceful ways to end them.”

A student-led group representing the protesters posted on social media that the university was failing to meet their demands, including acknowledging anti-Palestinian racism and divesting its investments in Israel.

“The university responded by stalling, addressing us in bureaucratic jargon and completely rejecting our very reasonable demands,” the group said.

The group said setting up a camp is just one of their tactics and they will continue to confront the government.

Frémont said the university will uphold academic freedom and freedom of expression.

“We have heard the message of the protesters. We fully recognise the pain caused by the violence that has occurred in the Middle East since October last year,” he said.

“That pain is indeed felt by many members of our community. We also know that the tensions the conflict is causing on our campus and in our society will persist.”

Last week, protesters cleared a two-month-old camp on the University of Toronto’s downtown campus after a judge granted the school’s request for an injunction that would allow police to remove and arrest any remaining protesters.

Pro-Palestinian protesters also dismantled their encampments at two universities in southern Ontario over the weekend.

The encampments at the University of Waterloo and Western University were cleared about two months after they were established as part of a broader movement calling on academic institutions to cut ties with Israel.

A group representing the Western University protesters said their decision was made after “careful consideration” and that they will continue to push for divestment through other means.

At the University of Waterloo, a student-led group representing the protesters said they decided Sunday night to “leave voluntarily,” calling it a strategic decision.

The group said it would now focus on the university’s investments and partnerships with Israel, which were reportedly exposed as a result of the protest at the camp.

According to university president Vivek Goel, the camp was dismantled peacefully and the school withdrew the lawsuit and court orders it had recently filed in connection with the protest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2024.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press