UC hill protest

Activists set up a mock Israeli checkpoint

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

University Police talking to the demonstrators

Cigdem Iltan

YOU GUYS BETTER SETTLE DOWN THIS INSTANT OR I’LL DRAW MY WHISTLE. A group of student activists set up a mock Israeli checkpoint on University College Hill yesterday. Campus police stopped the demonstration after a student complained.

Yesterday, a group of activists set up a mock Israeli checkpoint on University College Hill to protest and inform Western students about the restrictions placed on Palestinian movement between cities and neighbourhoods.

“Western students should get a feel for how these people who pass through checkpoints every day are brutalized,” said Diala Al-Dabbas, one of the event’s organizers. “The point is to raise awareness about the violation of the human rights of Palestinians and the violation of international human rights laws.”

The mock checkpoint depicted medical personnel, press, students and travellers passing through a soldier-monitored checkpoint.

Al-Dabbas said they encouraged students to pass through the checkpoint, but didn’t force them.

Israel On Campus President Didi Nishlis said the demonstration’s atmosphere was intimidating.

“They had activists who put the Jewish star of David on their arms and harassed students and intimidated people,” Nishlis said.

“Checkpoints are a reality because terror is also a reality. If there were no suicide bombers there would be no need for Israel to protect civilians by implementing checkpoints.”

Midway through the demonstration, Campus Community Police Services arrived, as the activists hadn’t obtained permission to use Western property.

Although the group of students didn’t inform the university of the demonstration, Al-Dabbas said university policy encourages activism and freedom of speech as long as students’ daily activities aren’t obstructed.

At around 2 p.m. the activists met with CCPS director Elgin Austen. He informed them about the reservations policy. They were allowed to continue their demonstration on the condition CCPS received no complaints.

“The students were either misinformed or didn’t follow the right process, but I found they were very respectful and I was glad to have the chance to talk with them,” Austen said.

The group followed CCPS’ stipulations and stopped demonstrating after a student complained.

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