Campaign Against Arms Trade is very concerned to hear that student activists are currently facing attacks on their right to protest across the country.
In recent months, we’ve noted increasingly harsh responses from university authorities to protesting students. This academic term saw private security drag students from their own university building in Sheffield during a peaceful anti-arms demonstration. In Bristol, students were threatened with arrest for trespass on their own university when they staged a die-in at an arms industry conference. More widely, in Birmingham, there have been attempts to burden protesting students with outrageous university court costs and five students have been suspended from Sussex University with the threat of exclusion for protesting.
Increasingly, police have also been brought onto campuses as a response to peaceful demonstrations and direct actions. The trend of disproportionate measures by university management has been mirrored in police behaviour. Officers attempted to recruit student activist informants in Cambridge, and anti-arms campaigners at UWE were followed by Forward Intelligence Team officers after their action against the arms industry conference. Last night, students involved in the University of London occupation faced police violence and were issued with very severe bail conditions.
Protest and direct action are crucial and effective. Student groups are vital to challenging the arms industry’s presence on campus. This term alone, several arms company events have been cancelled across the UK as a result of student action. It is perhaps because of its effectiveness that the response to student protest is escalating. It is important that any attempts to repress our right to protest are stopped in their tracks.
And so, CAAT stands in solidarity with those student campaigners who are facing disproportionate responses to their activism, and are defending our right to protest. We send our best wishes to those injured or burnt out by the events at recent protests and encourage people to support their call for solidarity.
There’s a national day of action on Wednesday 11th December organised by ULU students in reaction to the severe policing of political protest, state austerity and the privatisation of education. Join the protest at ULU or find out where your local student demonstration is happening.
Links for local action and more information:
Green and Black Cross key advice – Very Important!
London Student article about ULU
The national demonstration facebook event
Occupy Sussex info page
Student strike event at Sussex
UWE anti-arms page, also organising an event for this
Defend Education Birmingham
Sheffield Strikes Back
Sheffield Fund Education Not War
Warwick Protect the Public University
Right to Protest – general information page