Manchester Student Occupation for Gaza expresses unconditional solidarity for students who confiscated arms industry stall

On Tuesday afternoon, around 40 students from the University of Manchester disrupted a recruitment stall held by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) on campus.

The group, calling itself ‘Disarm Manchester’,was protesting against the presence of the arms industry on campus.  DSTL are part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) *.  Part of their role is to evaluate the arms procurement by the MoD, and to research weaponry.

The students entered the Schuster building and then put on high visibility jackets with the words ‘UMSU Health and Safety Inspectors’ written on the back.  They then peacefully and calmly confiscated all the stall materials from DSTL, including the organisations leaflets and the backing display board, before leaving the building.  

According to one Disarm Manchester protestor who spoke to a University representative before the protest, BAE Systems had been due to put on a stall but pulled out before the event.

This comes as part of a rich tradition of protesting the presence of the arms industry at the University.  Students have previously staged a number of die-ins against the University’s investments in the arms trade in 2005 and 2006.  In another protest, students invited themselves to University Finance Committee meeting in order to discuss the issue (2008).  A ‘Rebel Clown Army’ also embarrassed the university at their postgraduate open day (Nov 2007).  

This sentiment has been echoed by the students union, with students demanding more than once that the University break ties with the arms industry.  The Student Union passed policy on 15th February 2006 to campaign against the arms trade.  When this policy expired three years later, the UMSU Council passed a directive to continue to campaign.  Most recently, the Gaza Crisis motion included a resolve denouncing the University’s involvement with the arms trade and strengthening the Union’s stance against it.  

Companies such as DSTL are involved in the arms industry which have contributed to the war crimes that annihilated Gaza and other lands across the world.  BAE and others are empirically linked to the Israeli war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian territories.  We therefore express our solidarity, not only to re-enforce our own demands but to stand side by side in support for groups who actively campaign to halt these immoral corporations.


* DSTL was formerly part of the government’s Defence Evaluation Research Agency (DERA). When this agency was mostly privatised in 2002, some of their operations deemed sensitive, such as chemical and biological warfare knowledge remained ‘in house’. This part of their operations became Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL). The remainder of DERA was sold to the Carlyle Group. Former prime minister John Major has served as the European Director of the Carlyle group.



  1. Chris S said

    It was a really good and empowering action.

  2. Sue-Ann said

    Targeting Israel with Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions, and Prosecutions
    by Stephen Lendman

    Global Research, February 25, 2009

    copy and past the link to read the full article which outlines recent activist action across the world in opposition to Israeli occupation.

  3. […] Manchester students have been protesting again. On Tuesday, 40 of them disrupted a recruitment stall held by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) on campus. For more information on DSTL visit their blog. […]

  4. John Smith said

    Can someone explain to me how the group “de-arrested” their friends? To what I can understand I was the police who made the arrests? This is the first time I’ve ever come across de-arresting

  5. John Gutierrez said

    the man uni occupation rocks!

  6. Sara said

    Probably the most exciting thing that’s happened in the physics building in a while…apart from Fred Loebinger’s particle physics lectures of course :P!

    This was such a brilliant action; as a physicist, if you want a job where you actually want to do actual physics (as opposed to working in IT/finance/management etc) the only widely available research is in weaponry or nuclear power. In the meantime, the STFC research council, which funds slightly more esoteric research like astrophysics and particle physics, has an £80 million shortfall in its research budget whilst the government is willing to spend billions on arms. When it says it wantsNo wonder our scientists flock elsewhere post PhD.

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