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Students demand universities end complicity in border violence through investments in arms firms

STUDENTS across Britain have called on their universities to end their complicity in border violence by cutting their ties with arms, surveillance and logistics firms.

The campaigners are demanding that universities fully divest from the millions of pounds worth of investments in firms such as BAE Systems, Serco, G4S and Accenture within three years.

They also want universities to exclude border industry companies from their investments in the future and adopt a publicly available ethical investment policy that ensures human rights protection.

Taylor Adams, a student campaigner at Huddersfield University, said: “For universities who claim to be open and forward-thinking, it is disgraceful and hypocritical that they are funding firms that profit from detention centres in which people are imprisoned, abused and neglected.

“[Firms that profit from] surveillance systems which deny basic privacy rights, or equipment designed to hurt and even kill people seeking safety.”

People and Planet co-director Eva Spiekermann said that from the EU’s “lethal” Mediterranean border to Britain’s “dehumanising hostile environment policies,” violent borders are increasingly facilitated by private companies which arm states with weapons, walls, drones and surveillance systems.

She said: “These companies’ business models profit from chaos, misery and violence.

“Students across the UK will not accept their institutions engaging with companies that facilitate regular human rights abuses.

“No university should invest in firms that profit from violence at borders.”

Queen Mary University London law lecturer Dr Angela Sherwood said: “It is well-evidenced that the world’s most powerful countries are pouring billions of public money into weapons and walls, harming rather than helping people seeking safety and protection.

“The profit-making border industry has catalysed this trend by giving states the tools, technologies, and militarised equipment to perpetrate violence against racialised and vulnerable groups.”

Migrants Organise chief executive Zrinka Balo said: “Migrants and refugees are subjected to hostile and degrading treatment at every stage of their journey.

“This is not a failure of the system — it is the system — hostile and violent by design.

“Companies make millions from imprisoning people with no judicial oversight or providing substandard accommodation to those who are forced into destitution.

“We must work in solidarity to resist border violence wherever it appears and restore dignity and justice for all.”

Campaigners say that Durham University has invested £3.1 million in Accenture, technology firm IBM, and Aramark while Glasgow University invested £2.8m in Accenture and BAE Systems.

And Huddersfield University has invested £279k in BAE Systems, Accenture, and Serco.

BAE Systems provides advanced military equipment to border security at borders where thousands lose their lives every year.

Serco and G4S have repeatedly gained lucrative contracts to administer Britain’s detention centres, including Yarl’s Wood and Brook House — which have seen widespread allegations of physical and mental abuse, indefinite detention, child detention, neglect and poor conditions.

Aramark manages “direct provision centres” in Ireland, which have also faced allegations of mistreatment of asylum-seekers and was forced to apologise after a mother of three from Zimbabwe was refused a slice of bread for her sick child.

Meanwhile, Accenture has used the Syrian refugee emergency to promote its biometric identification systems and expanded its involvement in borders.

It recently come under fire from its own employees for its “unethical and immoral” contracts with US immigration enforcement while children were being separated from their families.

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