Freedom News

Students protest Manchester Uni’s complicity in Gaza ethnic cleansing

On Wednesday, October 25th, the Youth Front For Palestine (YFFP) and Manchester Leftist Action (MLA) staged a student-led protest on the University of Manchester’s campus to demand that the University of Manchester’s Graphene Institute stop arming Israel. 

The University’s lack of transparency about the National Graphene Institute’s links to the Israeli arms trade impacts its staff and student’s ability to make informed decisions on the research they undertake within the University. Therefore, YFFP and MLA are calling for the University of Manchester to stop abusing the intellectual property of students and staff and to be fully transparent on the partnerships of its Graphene Institute.

October 25th’s protest was attended by hundreds of students, staff, and community members, raising once again the call for the University to stop arming Israel. Demonstrators marched on the National Graphene Institute and were met with a disproportionately heavy police presence, belying the University management’s fears that the deadly research being carried out at the Graphene Institute could be disrupted.  

In 2018, UoM students and supporters exposed the £60 million partnership between the University of Manchester’s Graphene Institute and its partners Versarien PLC and Israeli Aerospace Industries. IAI is Israel’s prime aerospace and aviation manufacturer, wholly owned by the Israeli government, and it is responsible for producing aerial and astronautic systems for military usage. Nanene, a Graphene-based material developed by Manchester researchers, has been used by IAI to build fighter aircraft, drones, missiles, avionics, space-based systems, and other military systems for ground and naval forces used against Palestinians. Despite receiving significant backlash from students and staff, the University failed to answer demands calling for an end to its partnership with Versarien PLC and Israeli Aerospace Industries.

Since then, military weapons by Israeli Aerospace Industries have continuously been used to carry out raids on Gaza, including its most recent and deadliest attack in decades. Over 5,500 Palestinians have been murdered by Israel in less than 3 weeks, with the UN chief describing Israel’s action as “clear violations of international humanitarian law“. Throughout the current genocide of Gaza, the University’s Graphene Institute continues to be silent regarding its involvement in the Israeli arms trade (including with Versarien PLC and Israeli Aerospace Industries.)

“Clearly, the University is scared of any exposure to what is going on in graphene research. What else could justify the absurdly heavy police presence but the need to protect whatever dodgy research is happening inside the National Graphene Institute? There is a genocide going on in Gaza; people are dying by the thousands, and the University has blood on its hands. We will not stop until graphene is being used for improving lives, not taking them. In 2020, UoM students successfully kicked Caterpillar off campus – let’s do it again with Graphene warfare!”

~ Ghassan, a member of the Youth Front for Palestine

YFFP, MLA, and the student community call for UoM to stop abusing the intellectual property of students and staff with no transparency over its research projects.

Our demands are:

  1. The University will refrain from cooperating in military or security fields with Israeli academic, State or industrial organisations.
  2.  The University will end investment, commercial and research collaboration with Versarien and its subsidiaries.
  3.  The University will adopt and implement policies of complete transparency over past, present and future research projects so that their implications can be considered in full.
  4.  The University will not pressure students to conduct research projects involving the arms industry.
  5.  The University will commit to using graphene for socially and ethically responsible advances. 

Youth Front For Palestine is a city-wide youth organisation based in Manchester, committed to breaking the links between Britain and Israeli settler-colonialism. Manchester Leftist Action is a coalition of student activists from across the left-wing spectrum based at the University of Manchester.

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