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KCLSU officers suspended for advocating against Gaza genocide

On November 27th, three officers of the King’s College London Students’ Union released a statement condemning the silence on Israeli military actions and advocating for solidarity with Gaza’s victims. The officers were subsequently suspended, raising concerns about dissent suppression.

‘This temporary reprieve from Israeli military actions has led us to the unequivocal conclusion that silence is no longer acceptable, and students deserve an explanation for the deafening silence of their Students’ Union’; this is an excerpt from a statement issued by three officers of the King’s College London Students’ Union (KCLSU) on the 27th of November.

In the aftermath of the October 7th attack by Hamas, the situation in Gaza has evolved into what is now a genocide.

Since the beginning of the spree of Israeli attacks in Gaza, three of the six KCLSU officers- Hassan Ali (VP Welfare & Community), Alizèh Abrar (VP Postgraduate), and Sadaf Abbas Cheema (VP Education- Arts & Sciences), had been pushing for the students’ union to release a statement expressing solidarity with the victims.

However, due to lack of intended action from the union, the trio spoke out in support of the victims in Gaza on their Instagram accounts by posting a statement, only to face repercussions not long after.


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A post shared by Hassan Ali (@syedmhassanali)

The following day, they were confronted in a KCLSU meeting, with threats of immediate suspension if they failed to retract their statement.

Additionally, they alleged ‘hostile gestures’ were made towards them, particularly that a printed copy of their statement was ‘waved’ in their faces. They also claimed that they were not given the opportunity to adequately defend their actions in said meeting.

Days later, the trio found themselves debarred from office, raising concerns about the suppression of dissenting voices.

In response to the KCLSU’s decision, a Palestinian student on campus says, ‘in an academic institution that prides itself on critical thought, it is disheartening to witness the suppression of representatives who bravely speak out and represent the student body.’

What has the response been to the action against the officers?

This clampdown on pro-Palestinian voices within the union has caused a wave of social media support in favour of the debarred officers under the name of #HandsOffOurOfficers. The movement involves over 20 student societies expressing solidarity with the three Vice-Presidents.

Furthermore, the Central London Universities for Palestine Coalition orchestrated a mass student walkout to demand the reinstatement of the officers.

Composed of a crowd of over 100 people, the march began from Bush House on King’s College London’s Strand campus and concluded at the Old Palace Yard outside parliament.

This march comes over two weeks following the memorial of King’s alumnus Dr Maisara Alrayyes, a Chevening award recipient and postgraduate student in Women and Children’s Health, who was killed under the rubble in Gaza due to Israeli air strikes.

His demise has deeply affected students on campus, instilling concerns of the welfare of other alumni residing in Gaza.

Following this, Vice President Hassan Ali discussed intentions to create a scholarship for international students in honour of the late alumnus Dr. Maisara Alrayyes in a recent Accountability Panel. The realisation of this plan, however, remains contingent upon his reinstatement.

What are student worries in relation to KCLSU?

An official from the KCLSU (who chose to remain anonymous) reported that the officers of 2021-22 had released a statement against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Given the willingness of the union representatives to take political positions on major global events in the past, it would not have been unusual of the KCLSU officers to have released a unified statement on Gaza.

This has caused additional distress concerning the union’s moral standing, with their refusal to express concern for the victims of an ongoing genocide.

Not only this, but the KCLSU did not issue any official announcement regarding the suspension of the democratically elected officers; the information only became public when the officers disclosed the same on their social media accounts.

Thred was also made aware that prior to disciplinary action, Hassan, Alizèh, and Sadaf were not being informed and unfairly excluded from private meetings on the Gaza situation involving the KCLSU CEO and the President.

Furthermore, the source also revealed to Thred that a union trustee has stepped down in response to increasing pressure from the student community and associated advocacy efforts.


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A post shared by Hassan Ali (@syedmhassanali)

These actions of the students’ union have given the impression that its officials may be intentionally withholding information from the broader student community, attempting to downplay and avoid addressing the matter openly.

Those of the student representatives still in office, along with the senior leadership of KCLSU, have yet to address this issue. And, despite requests for comments on this matter, neither of them have responded.

Calls for lack of confidence in the KCLSU President

Since the 5th of December, more than 150 students have submitted formal requests for a no-confidence motion against the KCLSU President Steven Suresh, citing his failure to issue any statement regarding the welfare of students impacted by the conflict.

This is particularly disconcerting since the KCL Islamic society and KCL SJP had endorsed the representative during his election campaign.

Whilst speaking to a representative of the KCL Students for Justice for Palestine, they shared their disappointment at the elected President and Vice Presidents’ silence; ‘As elected representatives, we expected a strong and vocal commitment to addressing the concerns of the student body. The lack of engagement on such a crucial matter is not reflective of the leadership qualities we had hoped for.’

Moreover, the manifesto of the KCLSU President states: ‘The role of a President is not to push personal agendas but to reflect the student body’s opinions’. The President’s refusal to acknowledge, in any manner, the worries of Palestinian and Muslim students, among others, who elected him has led to a severe decline in support.

The constantly evolving situation in King’s has raised pressing questions for the union leadership: why is the KCLSU refusing to take a stance on the Gaza genocide despite repeated demands? Why is the union withholding information from the student community regarding the suspension of its officers? And will the union reinstate the debarred officers?

In light of these concerning changes within the students’ union, the student community of King’s College London is anticipating a collective statement from their officers, urging them to speak out on the ongoing genocide in Gaza, Palestine, and the reinstatement of Hassan Ali, Alizèh Arif, and Sadaf Abbas Cheema.