The following is a press release from Faculty for Palestine uOttawa regarding plans of the university administration to indict the students’ encampment.

My name is Justin Piché. I’m a Full Professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa, which is situated here on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Anishinaabe Territory. I’m also a member of Faculty 4 Palestine.

I’m here, standing in solidarity with student and other Occupy Tabaret organizers, as well as my university colleagues and labour movement friends, to convey four simple points.

Number 1 – In the wake of the 7 October 2024 attacks by Hamas on targets situated on Palestinian lands claimed by Israeli settlers, Israel has waged its latest military campaign in Gaza, which has killed close to 40,000 people and displaced nearly 2 million people according to recent estimates. Entire households, neighbourhoods and even universities like the one we’re at now have been wiped off the map. If we were in Gaza right now, we university students and professors would have nowhere to go to study and conduct research. In fact, a number of us would be injured, maimed or dead. This kind of genocidal violence is on-going.

Number 2 – Student and other Occupy Tabaret organizers of Jewish, Muslim or other faiths or of no faith at all have been here for nearly two months, occupying and sharing space, sharing their knowledge and experiences, sharing food, and offering care and compassion to each other. They have kept each other safe even amid vigilante harassment and attacks. Their demands are simple and reasonable. They are demanding that the University of Ottawa disclose its investments in the military industrail complex and divest from war profiteering vis-à-vis the on-going genocide in Palestine.

Number 3 – Over the past two months, the administration has threatened “serious consequences” for those involved in staging this peaceful action. The administration has not negotiated in good faith, have retreated from the negotiation table and seem to be preparing to set the stage to issue trespass notices and for the police to dismantle this peaceful encampment, risking the arrest of their very own students. Those of us standing here have a clear message to the uOttawa administration – do your part to work towards ending the genocide in Palestine, do your part to work towards liberation, self-determination and a just peace in Palestine, and get back to the negotiation table with encampment representatives to find a way to divest from the continued bombardment, occupation, and apartheid in Palestine.

And last, but not least, number 4 – The people here today shouldn’t be threatened by office holders in Tabaret. The students, staff, faculty and allies here don’t need a police siege of the kind we’ve seen at Columbia and elsewhere that will be, and will be remembered, as wrong if it’s ever ordered – we need action. If the uOttawa administration sends in the police to arrest students, the police are also going to have to arrest some professors, and if this happens when space for dialogue and negotiation exists, President Frémont and his team will have no choice but to resign because such a move would clearly signal that they do not have the best interests of their students and professors at heart. The people here, you know, we’re here at a university. A university that’s supposed to function where arguments are won with logic, facts, better arguments. That’s what’s supposed to prevail here, not force. Is it not?

Thank you.