1,000 UCL students tell provost to ditch arms shares

UCL Provost Malcolm Grant was yesterday presented with a petition signed by over 1,000 UCL staff and students calling on him to sell UCL’s shares in an arms
company. The provost also received a hand-signed copy of a book by UCL alumnus Richard Wilson, in which he describes how his sister died as a result of the arms trade.

Richard Wilson, his book Titanic Express and famous UCL alumnus Gandhi

Richard Wilson is just one of the UCL graduates who has given his backing to
Disarm UCL, which calls for the College to divest from arms trader Cobham plc
and to adopt an ethical investment policy. Continue reading “1,000 UCL students tell provost to ditch arms shares”

Disarm UCL campaign going strong

It’s been a while since I last updated you guys on how things are going at the Disarm UCL campaign.

As you might know University College London (UCL) is currently the biggest university investor in the arms trade in the UK. Most UCL students, staff and alumni think this is a disgrace. I am one of them.

We had a meeting last night and it was good to see everyone so full of ideas and enthusiasm for the campaign so close to the end of the academic year.

Despite the fact that most of us are coping with very stressful exams and essay deadlines the campaign is still going strong. We have a new alumni coordinator who got 30 UCL alumni to write to the UCL Provost to tell him to ditch the arms shares via pledgebank. Well done, Dan! And thanks to everyone who wrote letters.
Continue reading “Disarm UCL campaign going strong”

Protest at BAE Systems AGM

Just came back from the CAAT protest at the BAE Systems AGM. It was a great success. Before the start of the AGM we gathered in front of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster.

Some protesters had prepared a stunt: One of us dressed up as a judge. Two others were dressed up as Tony Blair and as BAE Systems CEO Mike Turner. They grabbed the judge and gagged him.

Tony Blair and Mike Turner silence a judge

The stunt was very popular with the media. There were loads of photographers taking pictures. Our stunt was also really popular with the tourists on their way to Big Ben. Continue reading “Protest at BAE Systems AGM”

Blogging the experience of gentle protest

Apologies if this info comes a bit late but here it is anyway:

Richard Smith, chief executive of United Health Europe has blogged about his experience inside the Reed Elsevier AGM and about what he calls a “gentle mornings protesting”.
Read the blog entry here

For those who are new here: Reed Elsevier is a global publishing company, which runs arms fairs on the side. We protested outside their AGM two weeks ago.

Read more about the campaign

BAE spies with their (…) eyes

I used to live, for several years, in Eastern Europe. I have since resigned myself to the fact that there probably is a nice little folder with my name on it somewhere in the Belarussian KGB archives documenting most of my life (where I went, conversations I had etc.) in Minsk. It’s a chilling thought.

What had I done to deserve being spied on? I worked as a volunteer with people with disabilities. How subversive! I always tried to shrug being spied on off as something you get when you live in a country which is under authoritarian rule. As Belarus wasn’t “my country” I could always leave if I didn’t like the spy-thing.

Well – I have left. I am back in “my country” and here I am worried that I was being spied on again. BAE Systems have previously used agents to obtain all sorts of personal and confidential information on CAAT staff and supporters. This time round Paul Mercer of LigneDeux Associates, who was hired by BAE systems has received a confidential CAAT e-mail and passed it on to BAE systems.
Continue reading “BAE spies with their (…) eyes”

Reed Elsevier AGM protest

I am from Cornwall and doing two weeks work experience with CAAT as part of my degree course in journalism. Its only my second day at CAAT but so far its been very exciting being in London. Yesterday we held a protest outside the AGM meeting of Reed Elsevier who run arms fairs as a subsidiary business.

Protest at Reed Elsevier AGM with smiling policeman

Some of the CAAT team went into the meeting as shareholders and asked questions to the board asking them to justify their involvement with the arms trade, especially in the face of their links to healthcare and the loss of their rating as an ethical company to invest in. They also asked questions about the invitation to arms fairs given to human rights abusers and suspects of genocide.
Continue reading “Reed Elsevier AGM protest”

A timely reminder

A sobering reminder of why opposing the international arms trade and working for de-militarisation across the world is increasingly vital was provided to me today. The latest report published by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows the catastrophic effects on the world that climate change is seemingly certain to have.

There are of course many moral reasons to oppose the arms trade. The sickening spectacle of executives such as Nicholas Prest and his shareholders, who profited handsomely from Alvis’s sale of armoured vehicles to Indonesia, used by the Indonesian Army in their horrific campaign of atrocities in Aceh in the early years of this century, is reason enough in many eyes.

Climate change is going to radically alter the global security environment in negative ways. As the UN notes “a warming world will place hundreds of millions of extra people at greater risk of food and water shortages and threaten the survival of thousands of species of plants and animals…floods, heatwaves, storms and droughts are all expected to increase, with people in poorer countries suffering the worst effects”. Most wars, both civil and international, take place in the poorer countries.

As the human race appears no more able to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner than it has for centuries, the negative effects of climate change are certain to increase the amount of war, killing and suffering in the world in the decades to come. The existence of the international arms trade, and the arms companies which develop ever more destructive weapons system in their quest for more and more war profits is going to exacerbate this problem in many terrible ways.

Clubbing, Chilling and Campaigning

Isabel and I went to the Synergy Project last night. It was great fun! We took my friend Larissa from Ukraine along who is visiting at the moment. She said she had never seen so many alternative-looking people in one place. At the moment she is still in bed recovering from sub-culture shock :).

We set up the CAAT stall quite nicely. Here it is:
CAAT stall at the Synergy Project

People were really chilled and friendly and it was great chatting to them about CAAT’s work. We handed out flyers about our BAE Systems AGM protest on 9 May and about the Reed Elsevier campaign (this is the publishing house which besides academic publishing likes to run arms fairs). Our FREE CAAT badges were really popular with people.

I loved the atmosphere and the conversations. One nice guy told me he’s just been to see Landscape with Weapon at the NT and apparently it’s great. So I thought I’d share this with you.

The rest of the night was dancing…

Stop the Death Trade in London

London CAAT met at 11am today to start our “Central London Arms Trade Crawl” outside BAE’s headquarters. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in this first leg we were emphasising the corrupt nature of the trade in death in our home city. The secluded Carlton Gardens, where the firm that the government won’t allow to be investigated for corruption shares a building with investment bankers, is a few hundred metres from Buckingham Palace. Crime evidently pays very well.

After forty minutes of chatting with and handing out leaflets to some of the people coming in and out of the building and those around it we began the short journey to the far busier Haymarket. At noon we were outside New Zealand House, which houses the offices of Land Rover Leyland International Holdings, the parent company of Ashok, which agreed to sell military trucks to Sudan despite the embargo there. The focus here was on the indiscriminate nature of the trade and the mention of Darfur was a definite catalyst for passers by to agree to sign our petition.
Continue reading “Stop the Death Trade in London”