Victory for Anti-Arms Trade Campaign
Over 300 students turned up to show their opposition to investing in the arms trade at a General Meeting in UMSU last Wednesday, following on from reports at the high level of arms investment at the University of Manchester.
Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) revealed last October that the University of Manchester invests over £1.4 million in arms companies such as BAE systems, Rolls-Royce, GKN and Smiths Group. These companies supply arms to countries involved in human rights abuses including Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. The University of Manchester was the fourth largest known investor in BAE System with 168, 000 shares.
Since the publication of the report, students have been actively protesting and demonstrating against the University, campaigning for the University to dis-invest in arms companies. The student group (known as SfEI – Students for Ethical Investment) staged “die-ins” in December and again last week, where protestors dressed as wounded victims, with banners saying “Established to fund the arms trade” and in a Valentine’s Day twist, “Let cupid do the shooting”.
The General Meeting was the next necessary step in the campaign and means that executive members of the Students’ Union can further pressure the University at higher levels. Academic Affairs Officer David Brannan seconded the motion and said that it was important that the University was held accountable for where our money is being invested.
One student at the meeting told Student Direct: “This shows that students care about where their money goes and where it is invested. We don’t want our fees funding conflicts in the Third World.”
Ellie Messham, who has co-ordinated the SfEI campaign told Student Direct that she was delighted by the outcome and hoped this would mean the University would change its investment policy.
Tom Barlow, Communications Officer echoes Ellie’s words: “The aim is to get the University to ethically re-invest shares from arms companies to ethical investments across the board. Ethical investments can be profitable and rebuild communities, fight disease, increase equality or protect the environment. Investment in the arms trade causes increases in civil wars and genocide in other countries, mass murder, poverty and economic instability”.