“For Palestine to be free, we must fight like hell for the living, and more the dead”: UNSW Protest for Gaza

Protesters in Matthews food court at UNSW

UNSW students and staff stood in solidarity against the unfolding genocide in Palestine at the UNSW Protest for Gaza on June 12th. Approximately 100 protestors gathered outside the UNSW main library at 1pm, demanding that the university cut ties with weapons dealers, defund the development of dangerous technologies, and end its complicity with the occupation of Palestine.

Cherish Keuhlmann, the SRC Education Officer and member of Students for Palestine UNSW, spoke to New Name Loading about how important the student movements such as the Gaza Protest are.

“It is in our numbers that we can put pressure on management and show that we won’t be silent, we won’t be passive or apathetic. Historically the student movement has been one that is against war, but to give confidence to people to come out in their numbers someone has to take a stand – so that’s what we’re trying to do,” Keuhlmann said.

The on-campus protest was organised by Students for Palestine UNSW and was chaired by the group’s convenor, who is also the SRC Environment Officer, Gina Elias. UNSW staff members Dr. Lana Tatour, who is a Palestinian academic and journalist, and Dr. Andrew Brookes, a social sciences academic and researcher, spoke at the protest alongside Cherish Kuehlmann. In their respective speeches they called on the university to defund any of their $3 million investment asset portfolio that includes companies who manufacture weapons such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Rolls-Royce, and others as exposed by Students for Palestine UNSW and the UNSW Education Collective. 

“We are here to demand that UNSW cut all ties with Israeli universities and institutions and that it divests from companies profiting from the genocide in Gaza… It is time for UNSW, a university that prides itself as the social justice university, to be on the right side of history,” said Dr. Tatour.

The current war in Palestine broke out on October 2, 2023. According to the  United Nations as of May 2024 the death toll in Gaza now totals over 35,000. This approximate figure includes almost 8,000 children and 5,000 women killed due to the conflict. 

“For Palestine to be free, we must fight like hell for the living, and more the dead,” said Dr. Brookes. “This university invests money that it brings in from your student fees into managed funds that invest in weapons corporations. These relationships must cease, and we must keep the pressure up until they do”.

“The demands to cut ties with the war industry and divest are big ones…we need to build the pressure. People should get involved in activism with Students for Palestine however they can,” Keuhlmann urges.

Students for Palestine UNSW will host an organising meeting and campaign workshop at 1 pm on Monday, June 17th, and have planned ongoing action and protests the remainder of the trimester. The organisation and all updates relating to upcoming events can also be found on Instagram (@studentsforpalestineunsw).