University of Helsinki’s Student Protests against Ties with Israel Continue

University of Helsinki’s Student Protests against Ties with Israel Continue

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Amid the growing student movement in the US and Europe demanding an end to Israeli atrocities in Gaza, a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of Helsinki in the Finnish capital continued on Thursday.

There has been a global anti-Israel movement sparked by massive student demonstrations at American and European universities in recent weeks.

The protesters in the Finnish university demand that the university terminate all exchange student agreements and research collaborations with Israeli educational institutions.

Those taking part in the demonstration pointed out that Israeli universities are complicit in the violence in Gaza.

According to the demonstrators, Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been involved in developing weapon technologies used against people in Gaza and training military personnel in collaboration with the Israeli army, national broadcaster YLE reported.

Despite calls, the Board of Governors delayed a decision on a demand to cut ties with Israeli universities after a Wednesday evening meeting, said YLE.

Demonstrators said there was a lot of excitement in the air as the board met to discuss the issue, but the evening ended in disappointment when it became clear that a decision would not be reached.

"Given the urgency of the issue, we had hoped for a clear position already. We don't know what the content of the statement will be, but in general, people here are disappointed now," Kevin Soovik, spokesman for Students for Palestine, told the Swedish-language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet.

The Chair of the Board of Governors of the University of Helsinki, Emeritus Professor Niklas Bruun, said the issue prompted a lengthy, in-depth discussion at Wednesday's meeting.

"This raises concerns on major issues of principle. It is a serious matter. The board took this very seriously," he told the newspaper.

Bruun refused to say how discussions would proceed or how the board members viewed the issue. He did, however, confirm to Hufvudstadsbladet that a statement of guidelines will be issued within a few days.

However, students are sticking to their demand, stating that the demonstration will continue until the university agrees to cut off academic ties with Israeli universities, Anadolu Agency reported.

"Cooperation with Israeli universities clearly violates the University of Helsinki's ethical principles, because these universities are complicit in genocide, apartheid, and violations of international human rights," Vilja Hermansson, a member of the student group, told YLE.

According to the group, Finnish higher education institutions should act similarly to those in neighboring Norway, where five universities severed ties with Israel in February.

In neighboring Sweden, pro-Palestinian demonstrations were being held across the country on Tuesday, with university students pitching tents to protest Israel's ongoing offensive on the Gaza Strip.

Around 400 academics from Swedish Lund University protested alongside students, urging the university administration to clarify its position on the Gaza war and cut ties with Israeli educational institutions.

Pro-Palestine campus protests have been persistent in the US since April 17, when students at Columbia University in New York launched an encampment in solidarity with Gaza and demanded that their school divest from Israel.

More than 2,000 people have been arrested at US campuses since last month amid heavily polarized debates over the right to protest, the limits of free speech and accusations of antisemitism.

Demonstrations and sit-ins are also taking place on campuses across Europe, including in France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, as part of a larger protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza, which have killed over 35,000 people, mostly women and children, and injured nearly 79,000 others, as well as destroying infrastructure and causing shortages of necessities in the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Most Visited in World
Top World stories
Top Stories