In a victory for the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) yesterday overwhelmingly passed a motion through its Student Council to block their contract with security firm G4S, and to lobby the University to follow suit.
G4S currently provide security services to Edinburgh University library, which prompted Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to begin a campaign to force the University to tear up its contract with the security firm. It was then recently discovered that EUSA were also in the process of hiring the firm for money collecting services. This led to a motion quickly going before Student Council and it was clearly passed, meaning the Union’s trustee board must now look for an alternative.
The Danish-British security firm have been under huge scrutiny following the disclosure earlier this year of their role in Israel’s occupation by ‘Who Profits?’ a project by the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace. The group revealed that the company supplies equipment and services to Israel for use at checkpoints, police stations, and settlements in the occupied West Bank and at Israeli prisons. Over the past month Palestinian prisoners have embarked on an open-ended hunger strike to protest the conditions in G4S supplied prisons.
In March earlier this year, due to pressure from the BDS campaign, G4S announced that it would exit from some of its contracts in the West Bank. However it will still deliver security services to illegal settlements in the West Bank and prisons in Israel.
G4S are also involved in running 4 detentions centres in the UK and received over 700 complaints against it in 2010. The company could also faces charges over the death of Jimmy Mubenge, who died whilst in the process of being deported and in G4S custody.
The campaign to get G4S off Edinburgh University campus is part of a wider campaign for BDS by the SJP society on campus. Recently the group shut down the Careers Fair at the University for a second time in protest of the presence of arms dealers BAE there. Last March, at a EUSA General Meeting, a motion to Boycott Israeli Goods was passed by a landslide, with over 90% of the students present voting in favour. This came after the society shut down a talk by Ishmael Khaldi at the University, an advisor to Israel’s racist foreign minister Avidgor Lieberman.
The society, working now with EUSA and other ethical campaigns on campus, will now demand that the University’s contract with G4S is ripped up and for no further contracts to be given to those companies involved or complicit in the continued suffering of the Palestinian people.