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Sheffield students take direct action over university's arms trade links

Students protesting at Sheffield University with a banner reading "Rolls Royce off campus"

Sheffield students take direct action over university's arms trade links

The Peace Pledge Union has backed students who are taking nonivolent direct action over Sheffield University's links with the arms trade.

A group of students in Sheffield yesterday began a nonviolent occupation of the Diamond, the university's engineering building. The occupation has now entered its second day and the students say they "have no plans to leave".

The students point out that Sheffield University received close to £47 million in research funding from arms companies between 2013 and 2021. The companies included BAE Sytems and Rolls-Royce, both of whom are involved in the supply of military equipment to the Saudi-led coalition bombing Yemen, the Israeli forces occupying Palestine and other armed forces engaged in aggression around the world.

The student occupiers include members and supporters of several campaign groups, including the Peace Pledge Union (PPU). The PPU, Britain's leading pacifist campaign group, supports members and allies around the UK to take action in their own communities.

"The University of Sheffield is complicit in war crimes," said one of the student occupiers. "Every year the university accepts millions of pounds from companies that supply weapons used to kill civilians. By accepting money from these murder factories, the university is endorsing an industry that is directly causing the deaths of millions of people."

They say that they have been forced to take direct action after a decade of more conventional campaigning methods. The Students' Union, People & Planet and Fund Education, Not War having campaigned on the issue for years.

The campaigning students are calling on the university to "cancel all contracts with arms companies, refusing to take any more funding from them, and stop bringing them into the careers fairs".

The Peace Pledge Union, Britain's leading pacifist campaign group, said they applauded the students' campaign.

"The arms trade has no place in education," said Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union. "Arms industry links with universities are an example of everyday militarism, with violence, warfare and arms deals wrongly treated as if they were a natural part of everyday life. If the university authorities want to end the disruption that the students' occupation has caused, they should listen to the voice of the students and ditch their foul deals with murderous companies such as BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce."

Some of the student campaigners are wearing white poppies, with the occupation having begun on the day that this year's white poppy campaign was launched by the PPU. White poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war, a commitment peace and a rejection of militarism.

The student occupiers say they "will stay as long as is necessary".


The Peace Pledge Union is a group of people who have pledged to resist war and to tackle the causes of war. We are the British section of War Resisters' International. Join us!