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27th October 2023

“Shame on you!”: Protesters condemn University of Manchester during pro-Palestine protest

Protesters call for weekly protest over University graphene research
“Shame on you!”: Protesters condemn University of Manchester during pro-Palestine protest
Photo: Alfie Cumberworth

At noon on October 25, protestors congregated to denounce the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute for working with Versarien.

Protesters marched from Whitworth Hall to the National Graphene Institute before returning to Whitworth Hall to directly condemn UoM’s senior leadership.

Around 300 protesters were heard chanting “Free free Palestine” as well as “your profits are covered in Palestinian blood.”

The University of Manchester told The Mancunion they have had no graphene collaborations with Israel Aerospace Industries.

2D tech, a company spun out of the University of Manchester in 2013, was taken over by Versarien earlier 2014.

In 2017, Versarien announced a collaboration agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries to test Nanene. Nanene is a proprietary material that does not belong to the University of Manchester, the University’s IP, or processes.

Individual speakers at the protest stated: “we have to break the link between this country and Israeli apartheid” and asked: “why have we got arms companies coming into educational spaces?”

Other campaign groups on campus, such as Amnesty International, have called on UoM to cut ties with arms companies BAE systems in the last few years.

Georgia, a third-year Law student, said “UoM needs to say they condemn Israel as they have with Hamas, where’s the condemnation of [the] 2000 children under rubble?”

The University responded to The Mancunion’s request for comment: “[We] give careful consideration to [our] research collaborations and follow all government legislation and guidance alongside our own robust partnership process.”

On October 9, UoM released a statement on their Student News site saying, “The University is contacting all those staff and students from the region to remind them that we are there for them and to let them know of the support and assistance that we can offer. In line with our values we reaffirm the importance of mutual understanding and tolerance at this very difficult and distressing time.

Any and all forms of racism, antisemitism, islamophobia, discrimination, and abuse have no place in our community.

There are extensive resources for wellbeing and other sources of support on our conflict and humanitarian disasters site for anyone who might be affected.”

Protesters accused the University of selling Graphene research that was helping to create weapons used against civilians in Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen.

On their website, Versarien states its partnership with the university “aims to further explore how graphene can improve major health challenges, such as cancer, diabetes and dementia.”

Protesters called for weekly protests against the University’s involvement in graphene research that could be used by the Israeli military.

The protest follows on from a pro-Palestine march from Fallowfield to Central Library in Manchester city centre on October 15.

Read The University of Manchester’s full response below:

“We are aware of a planned protest which took place on campus today. The University hasn’t had any graphene collaborations with Israel Aerospace Industries. Nanene is also a proprietary material which does not belong to The University of Manchester, nor the University’s IP, or processes.

“We have clear policies on intellectual property and Export Control, along with robust due diligence processes, which all our researchers, overseas and domestic, must adhere to as part of their professional contracts. These systems are consistently reviewed, and we take all necessary measures to assure ourselves that our research is not used beyond its agreed application.

“The University gives careful consideration to its research collaborations and follows all government legislation and guidance alongside our own robust partnership process.

“We understand that our University community, particularly those with friends, family or close ties to the region, will be deeply concerned about the escalating violence, loss of life and the dreadful situation in Israel and Palestine. For all those affected, you have our deepest sympathies and support.”

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