19 October 2010
BAE Systems protest at Guardian's London Graduate Fair
Two weeks after the launch of Campaign Against the Arms Trade's new Ban BAE counter-recruitment campaign, students and anti-arms trade activists kicked off the academic year by taking over a BAE recruitment presentation and staging a die-in at their stall.
The action took place at the Guardian's busy Graduate Fair held at the Business Design Centre in north London and saw 15 young people, including students, CND supporters and Quakers, making a strong statement against the unethical activities of BAE – the world's largest arms producer.
BAE Systems sells arms to countries the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Human Rights report classes as "major countries of concern". Notable customers include Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Indonesia. BAE arms sales in several countries have been investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and allegations of corruption have dogged the company for years. In March 2010 BAE agreed to pay a $400 million criminal fine to the US Department of Justice.
The company is keen to recruit university graduates, especially in engineering and sciences. Each year they spend thousands of pounds on recruiting staff to research, design, build, market and sell the next generation of killing equipment.
But students are increasingly voicing their distaste for the promotion of careers in the in the arms industry by supposedly ethical organisations, like universities and The Guardian. CAAT has identified over 40 careers events in October and November 2010 where BAE or other arms companies will be present. Students activists are being urged to ensure that BAE is met with campus protests every time it participates in career fairs or other recruitment events.
Sarah, a student at Kings College, London, says:
BAE has no place in educational arenas, unless they are willing to tell the truth about what they are and how they operate.
Abi Haque, CAAT Universities' Network Co-ordinator says:
We significantly disrupted the BAE presentation and stall. It was encouraging to see how many students were receptive to our message about BAE and the unethical career choices they offer to graduates. We hope that The Guardian, which has done so much to expose BAE's shady activities, will exclude BAE from future Graduate Fairs.
For further information on the Ban BAE Campaign please contact our Universities' Network Co-ordinator or ring 020 7281 0297. For further information on CAAT please contact our Press Co-ordinator or ring 020 7281 0297. Photos are available from CAAT.
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade together with progressive demilitarisation within arms producing countries. Around 80% of CAAT's funding comes from individual supporters and CAAT is strictly non-violent in all its work.
2. CAAT has released a new action guide for students and activists, Disrupting Arms Company Recruitment, available to download from CAAT's website, together with a BAE Counter-Recruitment Campaign Pack. Further information on the campaign and the Universities Network is available here.
3. CAAT has compiled an initial list of dates when BAE is visiting universities which is available here. This is not a comprehensive list - check with your university careers service if your university isn't listed.
4. According to the Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI), BAE Systems is the world's largest arms producer. It makes fighter aircraft, warships, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery systems, missiles and munitions. Its foremost overseas markets are Saudi Arabia and the United States, with large sales also to Australia, India and South Africa. In February 2010 BAE agreed to plead guilty to "accounting irregularities" in a 1999 sale of radar equipment to Tanzania and was fined £30 million, while being simultaneously fined $400 million by the US Department of Justice for conspiring to defraud the US and for making false statements under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.