Pro-Palestine protestors outside the Centre for Student Life. Taken by Murthaza Ali-Hassan

Pro-Palestine group protests against careers talk for Cardiff University students

The demonstration continued even though the BAE Systems event was moved online

One protester waving to drivers on Park Place, some of whom honked in support. Credit: Murthaza Ali-Hassan

ANTI-WAR groups and students protested outside Cardiff University’s Centre for Student Life over a careers forum event.  

They were protesting on Thursday, February 15 against the involvement of British arms company BAE systems at an event for engineering students.

The protest continued, despite the university’s decision on February 14 to move the event online. It was due to be hosted in person in the Queen’s building but the change was made “to enable a more focused discussion on the opportunities available”, according to a Cardiff Student Futures email.

Protesters chanting after they crossed Park Place. Taken by Murthaza Ali-Hassan.

“We see it as a victory that says the university is on the run,” said Adam Johannes, of Cardiff Stop the War coalition, who helped organise the protest.

“We’ve seen the International Court of Justice say there’s a plausible case of genocide against Israel, so it seems very odd then to be rolling out a red carpet and inviting an arms company which is supplying Israel right now,” said Mr Johannes.

“Cardiff University are very comfortable with their relationship with BAE Systems,” said Hussein Said, a solicitor and alumnus of the university.

“The people getting the worst of it are being bombed,” he said.

He said that they would keep protesting until the university breaks all its ties with BAE Systems.

Roh (left) with other protesting students. Credit: Murthaza Ali-Hassan

“I won’t stop fighting for the freedom of my country”, said Roh, a Palestinian student who gave a speech earlier in the protest.

“It’s our duty to stand up and it’s a humanitarian issue,” she said.

“The students were still adamant that they wanted to come and show the university they were not happy that these kinds of businesses that are complicit in the genocide of the Palestinian people are being invited to this university,” said Nahir ‘Neezo’ Dahan, a protester with Stand Up for Palestine Swansea.

Mr Johannes said all of the universities in Gaza had been destroyed. He said it was “deeply inappropriate” for Cardiff University in this context to have a relationship with arms companies.

BAE Systems has provided arms to Israel, including parts for the F-35 fighter jets, said Cardiff Stop the War.

More broadly, there is a close relationship between arms manufacturers and university engineering departments across the country, said Mr Johannes.

Projects such as the Demilitarise Education database look at the connections between UK Universities to the arms industry through open-source data.

This involves freedom of information (FOI) requests, and data gathered by the public to create a detailed overview of any given university’s relationships.

Demilitarise Education does not have a database on Cardiff University, but do have a Discord server where people can contribute to research.

A protestor waves the Palestinian flag and a white flag. Credit: Murthaza Ali-Hassan

Stop the War Coalition was joined by organisations such as Cardiff Student Action for Refugees and trade unions including Unite and UCU in condemning the BAE event.

A Cardiff University spokesperson said: “We understand the strength of feeling around our careers event last night and we respect the right to peaceful and lawful protest. Decisions about who is allowed on campus for recruitment purposes are made in line with our Code of Ethics and Impartiality statement.”

“Whilst we appreciate that some of our students and staff will disagree with our approach, to meet the full range of aspirations it will, occasionally, include engagement with some sectors and employers that some disagree with. Our aim is to provide our students and graduates with the freedom, information and support needed to make their own career choices.”

Cardiff University did own shares in BAE Systems but sold them after students held a three-day sit-in in 2009, according to a Wales Online report.

The university has not yet responded to a further request to clarify the nature of its current relationship with BAE Systems.