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Oudemanhuispoort courtyard

Development of demonstrations at the UvA

Published on 17-05-2024 21:00
Since Monday, 6 May, protests have been taking place at various locations on the UvA campuses. Students and staff have many questions about the events. The surge of messages in the media and on social media does not always provide a clear overview.
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This timeline therefore provides an outline of events since Monday, 6 May, and shows how attempts were made to guide developments into a calmer course of action.

Friday, 17 May: Brief occupation of Oudemanhuispoort

On Friday, 17 May, a small group of activists briefly occupied the Oudemanhuispoort. The activists set up their tent camp in the courtyard garden. Face coverings were worn and confrontation with the police was sought. Consultations were been held with the spokesperson of the activists, but he informed us that he is not authorised to make arrangements with us. The UvA intended to file a complaint, but but didn't pursue this because the activists left voluntarily. The occupation ended around 17:30.

Thursday, 16 May: UvA-buildings reopen 

Teaching and research at the UvA resumed on Thursday, May 16. The windows near the main entrance of Building ABC on the Roeterseiland campus turned out to be daubed with red paint and slogans in the morning. The doors opened as usual. 

Wednesday, May 15: Teaching to resume

UvA decides that teaching and research should take place again as of Thursday, 16 May after a two-day closure. In doing so, it is essential that we keep talking to each other about the feelings of anger and powerlessness and about the war in Gaza.

Monday, 13 May: Walk-out and occupation of Roeterseiland Campus

After the official demonstration ended, some of the activists remained gathered at Roeterseiland.

Building REC ABC was occupied and barricaded (including emergency exits). This posed a danger to everyone present. Some of those present caused destruction and representatives of the media were intimidated. The UvA urged activists to leave the building. The riot police intervened.

The Executive Board could not take responsibility for the safety of all those on campus. That is why there were no classes at the UvA on Tuesday, 14 May and Wednesday, 15 May. Buildings on all campuses were closed. Read the statement by the Executive Board from Monday evening, 13 May.

Thursday afternoon, 9 May: Amsterdam triangle discussion

The Board has entered into discussion with the Amsterdam triangle (mayor, chief public prosecutor, and police chief) about the protests of the past few days. Both the triangle and the Board agree that demonstrations should be possible in a city like Amsterdam, but believe that activists have crossed the line in recent days. Destruction of buildings, furniture, and artworks is unacceptable. The triangle and the Board are also shocked by the violence against the police. The tension in the city as a result of the war in Gaza will likely continue for some time. In the coming period, everyone involved in this discussion will strive for the restoration of peace and order in the city and the promotion of dialogue at the university.

On this pageExternal link you will find an overview of news and other relevant information about these incidents.

Wednesday afternoon and evening 8 May

  • The second discussion between the representation of the protesters and the board does not bring the parties closer together. There is no room in the demands formulated by the protesters. The UvA cannot and does not want to meet all demands. The demands require considerable internal and external coordination and extensive research, which is unfeasible within the deadline mentioned by the protesters. The board also believes that maintaining academic ties – within the set ethical frameworks – can rather make a modest positive contribution to the situation in Israel and Gaza.
  • The safety concerns in and around the occupied buildings have since become too great. Residents feel unsafe, and significant damage has been done.
  • Therefore, the UvA decides in consultation with the police and municipality to file a complaint of trespassing and vandalism; the complaint is filed at 18:00, after the end of the second discussion with the protesters.
  • The police remove the barricades on the street because of public order and safety. Based on the report, the police also clear the premises.  
  • The police remain active long into Wednesday evening due to major unrest in the area; the previously occupied UvA buildings are empty by the end of the evening.

Wednesday morning 8 May: conversations and blockages 

  • Representatives from the group of activists accept the invitation and meet with the Board at 10:00. The Board repeats the proposal to give further room for dialogue at the UvA, now by also offering to make the BG4 building available for debate on all topics related to this dossier, such as cooperation with Israeli universities, the ethical aspects of the policy framework for collaboration, but also the deployment of police on 6 May.
  • The protesters reject this proposal and stick to their three demands: full disclosure of all lines running with Israeli institutions and companies, stopping all academic cooperation with Israeli institutions that participate in genocide, apartheid, and colonial violence, and ending all contracts with companies that profit from genocide, apartheid, and exploitation of the Palestinian people.
  • During this conversation, activists and board decide to continue talks during a second meeting later in the day. This is to give the parties involved time to reflect on the proposals. 
  • In the meantime, the barricades around the occupied premises are strengthened. It becomes clear that inventory from the UvA premises including artwork is being used for this purpose. The UvA receives reports that residents do not dare leave their homes and that UvA employees have been intimidated. 
  • Because of the blockades, the BG 1, 2, 3 and Oudemanhuispoort buildings are closed for teaching and research. 
  • The Executive Board stays in touch with the protesters, hoping to work towards a solution that ends this situation and that works for all parties. 

Tuesday evening 7 May: Binnengasthuisterrein and Oudemanhuispoort 

This demonstration culminates in occupation of the Oudemanhuispoort and BG4 on the Binnengasthuisterrein. 

  • Protesters erect barricades, damaging buildings, inventory, and public spaces. 
  • Attendees in BG4 are intimidated and forced to leave in a hurry. 
  • Things calm down during the evening, and the police take no action to prevent further escalation. 
  • The Board invites protesters' representatives to engage in talks on Wednesday morning to create dialogue and arrive at a solution, including the proposal to make the BG4 building available as a debate centre. 
  • Several dozen activists will spend the night in the occupied buildings. 

Tuesday afternoon 7 May: Roeterseiland and city centre 

On Tuesday at the end of the afternoon, a new demonstration begins at the Roeterseiland Campus, in which about a thousand students and staff participate. This shows their strong commitment. The protest is directed, peacefully, against the administration and against the police actions of Monday. This demonstration later moves through downtown to two other UvA locations, the Binnengasthuisterrein and the Oudemanhuispoort.

Monday evening 6 May: unsafe situation and evacuation 

The activists with whom talks are held on Monday agree to the terms, but that agreement is not shared by all activists in the tent camp. After the talks, first with mayor Halsema and later with the police, some of the activists leave. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all protestors. 

  • Over the course of Monday night, an unsafe and grim situation develops, with several incidents involving fireworks being thrown, people being beaten, the Israeli flag being burned and barricades being erected.  
  • With public order and safety at stake, the ‘driehoek’ (police, public prosecutor and the mayor) has to decide to intervene to remove the remaining group of protesters. 
  • The Executive Board deeply regrets that it had to turn out this way. Demonstrating is allowed at the UvA, but without face coverings, blockades, overnight stays or atmosphere of intimidation.  

Monday afternoon 6 May: Roeterseilandcampus 

Around noon, the first protestors set up their tents on the lawn on the Roeterseiland campus. They demonstrated peacefully against the war in Gaza and called on the UvA to sever ties with Israeli institutions. 

  • A delegation from the UvA Board spoke with the protesters several times in hopes of dissolving the tent camp. The Board demonstration understanding for the activity. Protesting is allowed at the UvA. However, there are also house rulesExternal link. Overnight stays and setting up blockades are not allowed.
  • In the course of Monday evening, we published an overview of collaborations in which Israeli research groups participateExternal link (and not a list of individual scientists), thereby complying with one of the protesters' demands. The Central Student Council had previously inquired about this, and we had already responded positively to this request for transparency. The overview also includes the exchange programs with three universities in Israel; these exchanges are currently suspended due to the negative travel advice. Furthermore, the three agreements will expire soon and any renewal can be assessed according to the policy framework for collaborating with third parties.
  • The UvA already has policies for collaborating with third partiesExternal link. On Monday, it was proposed to organise a UvA-wide dialogue about this framework, particularly focusing on countries in war situations. That dialogue will be similar to previous dialogue sessions around cooperation with the fossil energy sector. cooperation with the fossil energy sector.
  • A temporary freeze on relations with Israeli science groups was also proposed on Monday. 

What is the UvA doing for students who feel unsafe? 

In the event of an immediate physical threat or emergency

Call security: 020 525 2222

This number is not intended for general, non-urgent questions about safety.

Questions and concerns

There are different people you can approach, such as a study adviser, a student psychologist or a confidential adviser. Go to information and contact details.

Finally, talks are organised at various places within the UvA where there is an opportunity to discuss recent events. Keep an eye on the calendar