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University students in Switzerland join Gaza protest wave

The hall of EPFL’s architecture building in Lausanne is currently occupied by around 50 Pro-Palestinian protesters.
The hall of EPFL’s architecture building in Lausanne is currently occupied by around 50 Pro-Palestinian protesters. KEYSTONE/© KEYSTONE / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

Pro-Palestinian activists occupied university buildings in Lausanne, Geneva and Zurich on Tuesday, widening the protest movement in the Alpine nation.

The hall of the architecture building of the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) is currently occupied by around 50 protestors, EPFL spokesperson Emmanuel Barraud told the Keystone-ATS news agency on Tuesday. The participants are sitting on the floor. Tents and food have been brought in.

Around midday on Tuesday, the students sent a request for talks with the EPFL management.

+ University of Lausanne calls for end to pro-Palestine sit-in

“We are in the process of organising what happens next,” explained the spokesperson. He confirmed that access to the building had been blocked, preventing other students from reaching the hall.

+ Student protestors at University of Lausanne continue pro-Palestine sit-in

In a press release, the protestors demand “an academic boycott” of Israeli institutions and “an end to censorship at EPFL”, in connection with the recent suspension of the feminist association Polyquity. They are also calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, the restoration of funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and an end to “the occupation and apartheid”.

Their demands are similar to those of a group of protestors who have been occupying a building on the neighbouring University of Lausanne (UNIL) site since May 2.

On Monday, the UNIL management and the students were unable to agree on the details of a meeting, according to Keystone-ATS.

Zurich and Geneva

In Zurich, dozens of students occupied the main entrance hall of the federal technology institute ETH Zurich shortly before midday on Tuesday.

Demonstrators shouted “Free Palestine” and put up a poster on the floor reading “no Tech for Genocide”, before being removed by the police, according to Keystone-ATS.

In Geneva, student protestors took over a University of Geneva (UNIGE) hall with tables, chairs and sofas around midday.

Palestinian flags were displayed on every floor of the building, along with banners bearing the messages “Free Palestine, stop genocide” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. An assembly meeting is scheduled on Tuesday.

In a letter, the Geneva students urged the UNIGE rectorate to encourage Palestinian students to study in Geneva and for “an immediate end to links between the University of Geneva and Israeli universities”.

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Adapted from French by DeepL/sb

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