Professor Accuses UCLA Of "Torturing" Pro-Palestinian Protesters

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, May 28, 2024 - 11:40 PM

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

UCLA Professor Hannah Appel has accused the school of human rights violations amounting to “torture” in the treatment of pro-Palestinian protesters. The reason is the denial of water and food from being brought into a building being unlawfully occupied by protesters, even though the students were free to leave at any time.

Appel teaches in the anthropology department in the areas of “transnational capitalism and finance,” “the economic imagination,” and “anti-capitalist and abolitionist social movements.”

She is also a member of Faculty for Justice in Palestine at UCLA.The Daily Bruin reports that a brief sit-in protest was held at the campus’s Dodd Hall. The students were soon cleared from the building. In the interim, Appel made her accusation of torture tactics. 

In a video posted on X, Appel is seen declaring “even if this is unlawful which, of course, I don’t think it is […] you cannot deny people to send in water in an effort to get them to do something against their will.”

While the students were free to leave at any time, Appel objected that “you cannot use a mechanism of torture” to force people to leave.

In another video Appel objects that she and other faculty were not allowed to bring food and water to the encampment demonstrators.Notably, Appel repeats a threat from faculty at various schools that they may withhold their grades in protest to pressure schools to drop any charges or allegations against protesters: 

“When the university sees that folks are withholding grades, they get scared. They’re scared because we’re flexing our collective power, and optimally, that fear drives them to the bargaining table, and then we win.”

Such threats have already worked as universities have caved to demands at schools like Northwestern or dropped charges against students. Yet, these professors are using the grades of students to coerce universities.

It is grossly unfair to students who were not involved in the protests or may oppose these protests. They have right to their grades and these professors have a contractual obligation to supply them. They should not be a tool for faculty protests.

Professors were free to join these students in occupying university buildings so long as they were willing to bear the consequences for their actions. To withhold grades to achieve political ends should be treated as a serious violation of faculty rules of conduct.

As for the torture allegation, Appel is dead wrong. There was no denial of food or water. The students had access to both outside of the building. Unlawful occupation of a building does not create an obligation on the part of the university to support the occupiers.

To call this a human rights violation is to belittle the deprivations of true victims of torture and other abuses.