FLAG AT HALF MAST: A DARK DAY AS UWE HOSTS CONTROVERSIAL EVENT. By George Gill.
The Western Eye will be publishing a full review of the day’s events, from both inside and outside the ECC, later this week. In the meantime, continue to watch the Western Eye website for further news regarding UWE’s ‘arms fair.’
The UWE ‘arms fair’ was held today, Wednesday 20th November. It was largely unaffected (although embarrassed) by students’ and activists’ attempts to disrupt proceedings. The event centred on procurement, research, technology, supply-chain management and the exhibition of ‘products’ (no live munitions were present).
UK Export Finance and UK Export Licensing, from UK Trade and Investment were also on the agenda discussing how the UK government, tax-payer funded, underwrites contracts for deals with unstable countries. (More forthcoming in the Western Eye, both in print and online).
Speakers and delegates exhibited their ‘products’ and discussed the difficulty of exporting them to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and about two dozen further countries which were described as ‘risky.’
The protesters staged a road blockade on Filton Avenue, the four-lane A-road outside the North Entrance. An irritated student, told the Western Eye: “I’ve been waiting for the Megabus for an hour and half because of the protest.” Students broke in to the ECC building early in the day, employing loud noise as a technique to disturb the conference.
Watch the video on ‘NO WMDs at UWE: Kick The Arms Trade Off Campus’ Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=689123157773246.
Reportedly, up to 50 people were involved a road blockade which resulted in delays for numerous delegates. Police reacted swiftly to move the protesters on as it is illegal to block a public highway. The protesters then moved on to block the entrance to the ECC.
One woman, in her 20s, was arrested at the demonstration for allegedly assaulting a police officer outside the ECC early in the morning. The Western Eye also heard reports that a member of the front desk event staff acquired a ‘sprained thumb’. However, the police told the Western Eye they were ‘overall very happy’ with the behaviour of the vast majority of students.
Most student observations of the day’s events favoured the humble efforts of the protestors to hold both the ‘arms’ industry and UWE to account for it actions. Criticisms of the industry focussed around the exportation of arms to countries with human rights abuses. Criticisms of UWE, on the other hand, were for ‘legitimising’ the arms industry by allowing the conference to take place.
Many lecturers have declined to publicly condemn the conference, however many expressed their concerns, in confidence, to the Western Eye. Dr Andy Tubb, a lectuer in Analytical chemistry, told the Western Eye: “I am disappointed in UWE’s involvement with the arms trade, although I am pleased to see the student’s efforts. We support the right to peaceful protest.”