STUDENTS DEMAND UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF ENGLAND (UWE) REVIEW OF REPRESSION OF ANTI-ARMS PROTESTS
Students write to UWE Governors to demand an independent review of repression against ‘UWE arms fair’ protests on 20 November 2013
Students have called for a national protest on UWE campus, Bristol, on 14 April
For immediate release: 10 April 2014
Students at the University of West of England (UWE) have written an open letter to UWE board of governors to demand a review of the repressive security at the Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) arms fair that was held at UWE on 20 November 2013.
DPRTE is an annual military business and arms fair. The event was attended by a number of major arms companies; including AgustaWestland, Boeing and Babcock.
The campaigners have released an open letter to UWE’s Board of Governors demanding a transparent, comprehensive and independent review into the conduct of the university and the policing of the event. The students have listed a series of concerns, including:
UWE’s decision to rent out the Exhibition and Conference Centre to DPRTE contradicting some of the university’s claimed commitments, especially regarding social justice.
Steve West, UWE’s Vice-Chancellor, was present at the protest and was witnessed intimidating protesters, and chasing up policemen to carry out his threats.
Annette Hennessy, UWE’s Head of Security, was seen taking pictures of protesters without their consent and without justification.
The collaboration between the police and UWE. UWE allowed a police Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) to gather video evidence on non-protesting students at the very heart of the University, far from any protest and after all protests had ceased.
This follows an open letter that students sent to Steve West, UWE’s Vice-Chancellor in the aftermath of the protests. The Vice-Chancellor ignored the letter and subsequent reminders.
The students are supported by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT). The CAAT University Coordinator Holly-Rae Smith said: “We are very concerned that UWE ever felt that the arms trade has any place on their campus. The allegations of repression and intimidation are very serious and are totally at odds with you would expect from a respected university like UWE. How can it claim to welcome democratic protests and champion progressive social change when it is siding with the arms companies?”
The students have also called a protest on campus on Monday 14th April to mark the Global Day of Action Against Military Spending (GDAAMS).
Holly-Rae continued: The national action at UWE Bristol on 14 April is to raise awareness about what has been happening on campus. We will also be joining our allies in denouncing the outrageous level of military spending that is fuelling the business of death, at the time as we are seeing deep and widespread cuts to welfare and education”.
Notes for editors and journalists:
- For an account of the events and issues that arose around DPRTE 2013 protests, read the open letter UWE students addressed to the university’s Board of Governors: https://network23.org/better-together/2014/04/02/open-letter-to-uwe-board-of-governors-demanding-an-independent-review-of-uwe-arms-fair-protest-repression/
- Past and future press releases will be posted on the following website: https://network23.org/better-together/
- On 14 April, we will provide live updates on twitter @uwebusiness: https://twitter.com/uwebusiness