Israel-Palestine war: Student officers at King's College London suspended 'for supporting Gaza'
King’s College London Students Union (KCLSU) suspended three officers from its six-person team after they collectively released a statement on Instagram showing their support for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The union represents 30,000 student members at King's College London who elect officers each year to represent their interests to the university and serve as trustees of the union.
The three elected officers suspended by KCLSU include the vice president of welfare and community, Hassan Ali; the vice president for education in the arts and sciences, Sadaf Abbas Cheema; and the vice president for postgraduate students, Alizeh Abrar.
In a statement, the three suspended officers said they had faced "verbal threats" from senior managers at KCLSU and "scare tactics" to force them to take down their statement of solidarity for Palestine.
"It is unfortunate that the irony of threatening three Muslim sabbatical officers with suspension for the 'crime' of standing for Palestinian human rights during Islamophobia awareness month has not dawned upon KCLSU's senior leadership," the officers said in a statement.
"The fact that scare tactics were the first recourse senior leadership took in response to our statement, which emphasised our worsening mental health struggles, points to the chilling disregard that the senior leadership harbours towards the mental health of its own elected representatives."
None of the suspended officers responded to requests for comment at the time of writing. KCLSU also failed to respond to multiple requests for comment by Middle East Eye.
But several staff members at KCLSU who wished to remain anonymous told MEE that the officers had been "singled out" and "excluded" for attempting to request that the union issue a statement calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The staff members also noted that the union had been "hypocritical" over its stance on Gaza despite showing its "support for Ukrainian and Russian students" after Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine.
The King's College London Students for Justice in Palestine (KCL SJP) society condemned the suspension and accused KCLSU of "harassing and intimidating " the union's elected officers.
"The KCLSU president has shamefully failed to protect his own vice presidents and has remained complicit in this undemocratic action," said the society.
The suspension of the student officers also comes weeks after an Israeli strike killed former KCL student and Chevening scholar, Dr Maisara al-Rayyes, who died while trapped under the rubble of his family home.
Following al-Rayyes' death, KCL paid tribute to the Palestinian doctor, who was published in several high-profile medical journals, including the Journal of Prehospital and Disaster Medicine.
The university also planned to organise a memorial to his life and work.