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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 March 2009

Cardiff student occupation: University divests from arms trade

Students set up Cardiff University Against the War when we discovered that the university had around 209,000 invested in arms companies such as BAE Systems and General Electric. These companies supply the Israeli armed forces.

From a protest in solidarity with the people of Gaza outside the student union we launched the occupation. Yahya Al Faifi, a Saudi asylum seeker and trade unionist who worked at BAE systems in Saudi Arabia, addressed the demo. We then filtered slowly into the main building and occupied the Shandon lecture theatre.

Meetings were organised to work out our demands. These included a complete divestment of all shares in all arms companies, specifically BAE Systems and General Electric; an ethical investment policy; at least five scholarships for Gazan students to come to Cardiff; supplies, such as old computers and books, to be sent over to Gaza. We also called on the university to issue a statement in defence of Yahya.

The vice chancellor told us to leave, but we stuck it out. On the second day we got a video link with Gazan students. The university tried to prevent this by disabling all network and internet connections in the lecture theatre, but eventually we got it working. The Gazan students hadn't been to school for four weeks. They all knew someone who had died. They sang a Palestinian song for us, and we sang the Internationale, a traditional song of workers' solidarity, back.

The occupation was advertised on Newport City Radio and we got messages of solidarity, including from Noam Chomsky. People donated food and water.

On the third day, we received an email confirming that the university had divested shares from BAE systems and most shares from General Electric. However, we were given an ultimatum to leave or to stay with no one being allowed in or out.

We wanted to go out on a high, so we decided to have a procession out of the university. We left all together shouting: "books, not bombs!" and "viva viva palestina!" While we didn't get everything we wanted, we scored some successes and agreed that this was only the beginning of the struggle.

Megan Beardsley-Price, Cardiff Socialist Students

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In The Socialist 4 March 2009:

Bosses get pay-offs, workers get layoffs

RBS pension scandal: Not a penny for these fat cats!

Hands off our post!

Stop Labour's mail sell-off

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Marx was right all along

Socialist Party feature

Has globalisation gone into reverse?

Our democratic rights under attack by Labour

Socialist Students

Anti-fees demo success - despite NUS leaders' obstructions

Cardiff student occupation: University divests from arms trade

Youth fight for jobs

Youth Fight for Jobs

The route

Construction workers

Construction workers plan more action

Message from strike leader

Socialist Party workplace news

Stop bullying at BT

Fight the cuts in Nottingham!

Sogefi workers demand strike

NUJ action

Cover supervisors: Teaching on the cheap

National Shop Stewards Network: Brighton launch meeting

Socialist Party women

International Women's Day 8 March: Don't make women pay for the bosses' crisis

Make all women's issues trade union issues

Solidarity with Constantina Kuneva

International socialist news and analysis

Ireland: Scrap the 'pension levy': Organise a one-day general strike

Kashmir: Health workers win demands

May Day

Support The Socialist on May Day this year


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