By Martha Shardalow
It’s another bad week for security firm G4S as two UK universities choose not to award them control of on-campus services.
Kings College London Action Palestine initated a campus campaign against G4S after criticising the company for their role in the Middle East.
G4S has an explicit part to play in providing security and equipment to Israeli prisons, settlements and checkpoints in the occupied West Bank. KCL Action Palestine launched a protest on campus and over 500 students signed their petition.
University of Southampton Students for Palestine followed suit and succeeded in their efforts not to award G4S a contract to provide security on campus. Previously, G4S had been a favourite to win major contracts at both Kings College London (KCL) and The University of Southampton and had already provided services to these universities.
Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) enacted much the same fate for the company back in 2011 – a major victory for the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. G4S no longer provides security services for Edinburgh University Library made possible by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who forced the university to tear up its contract with the firm.
The Boycott Israel Kings College group released a statement that the decision was due to “a continuous effort of resistance and support by the KCL students and staff.”They successfully passed a motion in the student union in support of the campaign, asking the union to commit and lobby the university against G4S.
Southampton students joined in celebration after their petition and public statement received overwhelming support by students and student societies. The petition was signed by 24 student societies from the Marxist society to the Taekwando Club.
Juman A, co-founder of Students for Palestine Southampton, voices her concerns to to exclude ethically corrupt companies from student circles. She said: “We believe that no one should be allowed to profit from their wrongdoings. We take a firm stance against G4S’ complicity in the occupation and its discriminatory malpractice in the UK and elsewhere around the world.G4S is complicit in the Israeli occupation’s flagrant violations of human rights and its breaches of international law. The boycott movement stems form the root of the Palestinian struggle and we, as students, are committed to one cause – that is justice.”
The weight of these developments are growing in momentum as part of an international campaign against G4S. This wider movement has seen public bodies, nongovernmental organisations and financial institutions across the world terminate their contracts and boycott G4S.
A growing number of universities are joining the pack with student campaigns in the UK continually taking force, including The University of Birmingham.
Due to their complicity with Israeli apartheid, G4S have also been excluded from the contract tendering processes at universities in Oslo and Bergen in Norway. These two institutions have called for the express exclusion of all such companies on their campuses and, alongside London and Southampton, do not deny this as a vital step towards strengthening the boycott movement globally.