“Yorkshire CND expresses solidarity with students at Sheffield University who are being harassed over an anti-arms trade protest that they weren’t even present at. The University even went to the lengths of hiring a private investigator to look into the involvement of two of the students in an occupation against the University’s links with the arms industry.
The students are now facing suspension or even expulsion from the University and fines and damages of £1750, despite being able to prove that they were not even in Sheffield at the time. Their activities have obviously been followed in order to make an example of them as a warning to others.
Such intimidation is a threat to the freedom of speech and action that should be freely available at a place of higher education.
In recent months there have been protests in a number of UK universities against the presence of arms traders and army recruiters. The war in Ukraine has seen a surge in the arms exports and the UK, already one of the world’s leading arms exporters, is doing what it can to cash in. At the same time, government funding for education is not forthcoming and educational institutions are looking for funding opportunities wherever they can find them. Many are now becoming increasingly dependent on the arms companies and the military for funds, tarnishing the image of education that should be challenged not protected at all costs.
According to the group “demilitarise education” Sheffield University has investments of over £44 million in the defence industry, but there are more worthwhile and positive investments to be made in alternative technologies that help us survive the challenges of climate change. Rather than try to suppress anti arms trade activism, the University of Sheffield should investigate their own complicity in the arms trade and the possibility that war crimes have resulted from it. We should be building towards a safe future of peace and understanding, not war.”
Dave Webb, Chair Yorkshire CND
TPNW progress in Sheffield can be tracked here: https://sheffield4peace.org/