At the end of June, the University of Glasgow decided to retain the bulk of its £3 million worth of investments in some of the world’s largest arms companies, including BAE Systems, Airbus and Boeing.
The decision to keep profiting from the arms trade was made despite a fierce campaign by the student group Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition (GUADC) and concerned members of the community. As has been pointed out again and again, weapons produced by the huge arms companies that the University has chosen to invest in have been linked to serious war crimes across the world. The University has publicly proclaimed that ‘#BlackLivesMatter’, but it has refused to accept that the bombs it profits from have been used to kill people around the world.
Creative Action online: People show support for the victims of the Yemen war
For obvious reasons, activism on the streets is not an option at the moment but we can continue our activism in other ways (all hail the internet!). For example, we couldn’t hold our vigil for Yemen as planned at the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation, so we held an online day of action alongside activists from across Europe. Keeping it simple in terms of asks seemed to work (a maximum of two should do it).
We asked people to post about the devastating effect of the war on the Yemeni people and the UK’s complicity in it as well as asking them to write to the Attorney General to ask him to move forward with the prosecution of Airbus on corruption charges regarding a deal to supply communications equipment to the Saudi Arabian National Guard – you can still do that here.
When asking people to make posts online, including some suggested text and statistics for social media posts increases the likelihood of people taking action as it makes it easy for them to repost. Providing them with relevant information and links is also useful – they can include this info in any actions they take/posts they write.
When meetings are online, you need to facilitate them differently. During our last meeting, we used a hands up system – i.e. when someone wanted to speak, they raised their hand and the chair would give them the floor, so to speak. This prevented people speaking over each other. One person wasn’t able to get their video to work so we got them to write a letter in the chat function when they wanted to speak but obviously it is best to get everyone on camera as that aids the flow of the meeting so sending round clear instructions on how to use whatever software you are using is key.
You could also ask people who are using the software for the first time/think they will struggle with it to sign on with you prior to the meeting so you can troubleshoot any problems. Most of the packages include options for sharing your screen so that can allow you to share any websites or documents with others (and allow them to share anything relevant too).
Each group may take different approaches but it is worth thinking about how you onboard new members (this can equally apply to in person meetings too!), both in terms of how you introduce them to your group and its purpose when you can’t meet them in person and also in terms of security, particularly if your actions involve non-violent direct action. We’ll be sharing more tips on that in the next week or two so stay tuned!
Today we stand in solidarity with Yemen. At a time when millions of people across the world are concerned about food supplies and the ability of our health systems to respond to crisis, Yemen must not be forgotten.
Today marks five years since a Saudi-Arabian led coalition began bombing Yemen – five years in which Yemen’s health system has “almost collapsed.”
What an end to the week of action – the end of a week packed with resistance and solidarity, and energies were still high. There were so many amazing actions to disrupt the set-up of the arms fair. Roads were blocked, and there were creative actions from games to drag aerobics, all saying loud and clear to the UK government: #Nohumanisillegal#FreeMovementForPeopleNotArms.
The struggle for climate justice and the struggle to end the arms trade are closely intertwined. When fossil fuel resources are extracted, land captured, and communities displaced by governments and fossil fuel companies, it is arms that make it possible.