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Swiss pro-Palestine protest reaches University of Bern

About 60 people crowd into the entrance of a university building. One is waving a Palestinian flag.
"We're just taking up space so that we can draw attention to our concerns," said one activist. "We will stay as long as necessary." The protest is to remain peaceful. © KEYSTONE / JULIEN GRINDAT

The student pro-Palestine protest has reached the University of Bern. On Sunday evening, about 60 people occupied the University's Unitobler building in the Länggass neighbourhood, as reported by a correspondent for the Keystone-SDA news agency.

According to a spokesperson, most of the occupiers were students from the University of Bern. However, all other people are also invited to take part in the protest.

In a statement, the occupiers accuse the management of the university of having taken a clear political stance in the Middle East conflict. “Pro-Palestinian employees are being censored. Meanwhile, academic relations are maintained with Israeli institutions. This must stop.”, it declares.

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“We call on the university to respect the peaceful occupation and enter into dialogue with us,” the statement said. No statement was initially available from the university. Pro-Palestine protests also took place in Geneva, Lausanne, and Zurich last week.

In Bern, the University decided at the beginning of the year to dissolve the Middle East Institute in its current form. This was in response to the results of an administrative enquiry after a lecturer at the institute made supportive comments about the Hamas attack on Israel.


On Sunday, the occupiers spoke of “censorship that attacks the academic freedom of employees who are critical and in solidarity with Palestine”. This repressive climate means that the University of Bern is not fulfilling the role of the “progressive” space it wants to be.

According to the occupiers, they contacted the university executive board immediately after the action began. They told media representatives that they did not want to disrupt operations starting on Monday.


“We’re just taking up space so that we can draw attention to our concerns,” said one activist. “We will stay as long as necessary.” The protest is to remain peaceful.

Adapted from German by DeepL/dkk/mga

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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