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Letter from McGill Graduate Students and Lecturers in Support of the McGill BDS Action Network

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Letter from McGill Graduate Students and Lecturers in Support of the McGill BDS Action Network

On February 22, 2016, the General Assembly of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) voted in favour of a motion to support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns on campus. The motion was put forth by the McGill BDS Action Network, a coalition of 19 campus groups, and calls on SSMU to lobby the McGill administration to divest from companies that are complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, as well as support for other BDS campaigns on campus. The vote, receiving a substantial 58% majority of the 883 students present, passed with 512 voting for, 357 voting against and 14 abstentions. The motion has now moved to an online ratification process, giving all SSMU members a chance to participate in the democratic process. Online ratification ends February 27 at 9am Montreal time.

The recent Canadian parliamentary vote condemning BDS has once again shown that we cannot trust our governments to uphold principles of human rights and justice. Just as SSMU divested from South Africa while the Canadian government still supported apartheid, it is up to student activists and faculty to respond to Palestinian civil society’s call for the boycott of institutions complicit in Israel’s violation of international law and Palestinian human rights.

As graduate students and lecturers of McGill, we support and stand in solidarity with the students of the McGill BDS Action Network, who are working to uphold such principles of human rights and justice on our campus. We urge McGill University to do the same and affirm the BDS Action Network in their work to engage the University in a process of ethical accountability.

We also regret Principal Suzanne Fortier’s email opposing and mischaracterizing BDS, following in the footsteps of the now countless government and institutional entities attempting to delegitimize - and at times criminalize - peaceful protest for Palestinian rights. Principal Fortier’s message erases the voices of countless faculty, staff, and students on campus who have not bought these false soundbites about BDS. While the motion did not pass online ratification today (with 2817 voting against, and 2119 voting in favour), we realize the fight is not over.


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