BAE Systems are holding two “taster weeks” in July for teenagers “thinking of studying Engineering at university”. Accommodation is being provided by Kirkham Grammar School, a school near BAE’s site in Preston which claims to have a “christian ethos”. If you could politely email the headmaster expressing your concerns that would be amazing. His email address is dr·walker(at)kirkhamgrammar·co·uk and our template email is below:
Dear Douglas Walker,
I am writing to express my concern that Kirkham Grammar School is providing accommodation for the Systems Engineering Taster Weeks organised by BAE Systems on the 8th to the 12th of July and from the 15th to the 19th of July. It is hard to see how a school which aims to promote respect for others within a Christian ethos can support an event run by the world’s third largest arms company.
95% of BAE’s sales are arms sales and it sells weapons to over 100 different countries according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. One recent example of a highly controversial deal was in March 2011 when BAE sold 200 Tactica armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia which were used to suppress pro-democracy protests in Bahrain (Jane’s Defence Weekly, 23/3/11). In fact, BAE has over 5,000 staff in Saudi Arabia providing “operational support” to the armed forces. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2010 Democracy Index, Saudi Arabia is less democratic than Syria or Iran. In fact, only 6 countries were less democratic.
BAE also has serious problems with corruption. In 2010, the US Department of Justice fined it US$400 million in response to corruption covering deals with Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Between 2004 and 2010, BAE were the subject of an investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office into deals with six different countries.
BAE Systems struggles to recruit engineering graduates, many of whom prefer the growing and sustainable renewable energy sector. Taster weeks such as those that you are supporting are intended to influence teenagers who often aren’t aware of the issues surrounding the company and to counteract public unease with its deadly business.
We have seen increasing concern about venues and institutions being co-opted to support the arms trade and our networks would welcome your assurance that your school will not be used to host events which support and legitimise this industry. I do hope you may be able to provide reassurance on this matter.