Pro-Palestinian students removed from University of Geneva by Swiss police

Swiss Police Crackdown on Pro-Palestinian Student Protest at University of Geneva

On Tuesday morning, police intervened at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in Switzerland to remove about fifty pro-Palestinian students who had been staging a sit-in for over a week. The students refused to respond to the university administration’s requests to vacate the premises, according to Swiss media reports.

Journalist Julie Zog, who works at Lehman Blue station and was present at the site, wrote on X platform that around twenty uniformed and plainclothes policemen entered the UniMail building at around 3:00 GMT (5:00 local time). She explained that most of the demonstrators were asleep, and after they were gathered, they were taken to the institution’s underground parking lot. A small group was waiting in front of the entrance to the parking lot, clapping continuously and chanting slogans in support of Palestine or their comrades. Zog saw students being handcuffed while being placed in police trucks.

The students were protesting against Israel’s war in Gaza Strip launched in response to an unprecedented attack carried out by Hamas on October 7 inside Israeli territory. The University of Geneva toughened its tone after failing negotiations on Monday and announced it would file a criminal complaint against pro-Palestinian students. In a letter addressed to the academic community on Monday, the university administration said it understood “the support shown by students towards the victims of the conflict in Gaza,” but asked them to leave the places where they were protesting and suggested other ways to show solidarity within the university.

The pro-Palestinian student movement inspired by similar movements in the United States began at Lausanne University and expanded to other universities across Switzerland, including Fribourg, Basel and Bern as well as polytechnic institutes in Lausanne and Zurich. The students at UNIGE specifically demanded that UNIGE take a position supporting an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and put an end to its cooperation with Israeli universities and research institutes.

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