The following press release was issued by the Youth Front for Palestine and Manchester Leftist Action on 25 October 2023.
On Wednesday 25 October, the Youth Front For Palestine (YFFP) and Manchester Leftist Action (MLA) staged a student-led protest on University of Manchester’s (UoM) campus to demand that University of Manchester’s Graphene Institute stops 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 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.
The 25 October 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 £60m 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 aircrafts, drones, missile, 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, weapons manufactured 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 three weeks with the United Nations 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 within the Israeli arms trade, (including with Versarien PLC and Israeli Aerospace Industries).
Ghassan, a member of the Youth Front For Palestine, said:
“Clearly the university is scared of any exposure about 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 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, the students of UoM were successful in kicking Caterpillar [a bulldozer company] off campus – let’s do it again with graphene warfare!”
YFFP, MLA, and the student community calls for UoM to stop abusing the intellectual property of students and staff with no transparency over its research projects.
Our demands are:
- The university will refrain from any cooperation in military or security fields with Israeli academic, state or industrial organisations.
- The university will end investment, commercial and research collaboration with Versarien and its subsidiaries.
- 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.
- The university will put no pressure on students to carry out research projects involving the arms industry.
- 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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