STUDENTS have held a demonstration at a Scottish university urging bosses to sever all ties with the arms industry amid the crisis in the Middle East.

Eleven University Gardens at the University of Glasgow has been occupied by activists from Glasgow Against Arms and Fossil Fuels (GAAF) who are aiming to shed light on financial ties between the establishment and companies contributing to the loss of life in Palestine.

The protesters have delivered a letter to security and management emphasising the “immediate necessity” for divestment from arms companies amid a reported lengthy delay in a decision on the matter.

They argue the university’s £5.5 million of investments in arms companies, such as BAE Systems and QinetiQ, make it complicit in war crimes, including the “genocide” in Palestine.

Ex-student Dima Alhaj, 29, and her six-month old baby were killed in Gaza in December alongside her husband and two brothers.

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The letter set out two demands: For the university to vote to cease all investments in arms companies and ban all arms firms from recruiting on campus.

Demonstrators have also hung banners from windows bearing the slogan “Divestment Now” and placed placards declaring "UofG invests £5.5m in weapons that kill Palestinians”.

The group said: “This occupation is not only a symbolic act but also a call for immediate and decisive action.

“It is a plea for the University of Glasgow to reassess its investments and take a principled stand against the arms trade.

The National:

“The students involved represent a diverse coalition united by a shared moral stance against the University's financial involvement with companies contributing to global conflict.”

Protesters added they want to engage constructively with the university and await a “positive response” from management.

GAAF says it hopes to replicate the success of the original Free Hetherington, a community space established by students who occupied Hetherington House in 2011 and held it for seven months, before agreeing to leave after winning several demands from the university.

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One student occupying the building said: “Given the ongoing slaughter in Gaza, it's astonishing the university would attempt to delay a decision on this for another three months.

“They are profiting from the arms used to kill Glasgow University alumnus Dima Alhaj, along with her baby, husband and brothers. This is abhorrent.

The National: A letter to management was delivered by the protestersA letter to management was delivered by the protesters (Image: GAAF)

“Students have been calling for divestment for 15 years. There have been endless meetings, reports and subcommittees, but nothing ever happens. We’ve been left with no choice but to take this action.”

GAAF said it had been told the finance committee was planning to set up a working group to consider breaking ties with arms companies, delaying any final call until a university court meeting in April.  

The committee had previously been expected to finalise its position on the issue at a meeting this Wednesday.

The National:

Another student activist said: They invest over £5 million in the murderous arms industry – including over £1 million in BAE Systems, who make missile systems for F-35 fighter jets, the same jets Israel is using right now in its genocidal bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza.

“Enough is enough. We will not leave this building until the university makes a firm, public commitment to divest from these merchants of death.”

This latest move from GAAF comes after the group staged two sit-ins last semester.

The group added: “It is a demonstration of the group’s impatience following a series of petitions, meetings and more restrained protests, all of which have seemingly led to no discernible change in university policy.”

The University of Glasgow has been approached for comment.

This story was amended on February 6