Students on hunger strike at La Sapienza say the university has 'Palestinian blood on its hands'

 ROME -- Students at the La Sapienza University have gone on a hunger strike inside the university grounds. The protest comes as a result of ongoing tensions between the governing board and students over the Israel-Palestine conflict. Chaining themselves together, the protestors have planned a three-day garrison, calling to open a dialogue with Dean Antonella Polimeni and the academic senate. 

 Students Francesca Lini and Lorenzo Cusmai explained: “Our country is not yet ready to work to build the conditions for peace, but there is no more time.”

 “We are chained and on hunger strike before the Dean of the Sapienza because it is from the centre of the largest university in Europe that taking a step back from those who are complicit in genocide can produce a major change.” 

  A further statement released by the students reads: “To all those whose consciences are shaken by the terrible images of the ongoing genocide in Gaza, the worrying state of all the Palestinian territories under continuous attack, and the increasingly real possibility of a generalised escalation of the war in the Middle East and beyond”.

 Students have come to observe “in various sectors of society a clear stance against war, for a ceasefire, to stop the ongoing escalation which risks dragging the world into a third world war.” 

“All of this, however, has been matched with a worrying anti-democratic twist, that in the most extreme cases has also resulted in batons and repressive violence on students.”

 On Tuesday, clashes between students and police over a demonstration protesting the collaboration between universities and Israel saw two students arrested – later released on April 17. According to the Police Headquarters, the incident occured when a group of around 300 protestors attempted to break into the university during a meeting between the dean and academic senate. Further protests were organised in front of the Court of Rome in Piazzale Clodio in solidarity. 

 Dean Polimeni has insisted on shutting down students’ protests and silencing the demands of the academic world, with students raising the ethical question of the military use of scientific research. 

“The university, indeed its governance, and first and foremost the Dean herself have Palestinian blood on their hands,” the students continued, urging the dean to take a further step back, “faced with the genocide of the Palestinian people and the risk of generalised conflict, this is the only right choice.”