Sunday, 11 March 2012

Campaign to demilitarise Queens University cancels British Army event

Troops off our campus sends out clear message that British Army recruiters will no longer be able to publicly organise without significant opposition, after the Officer Training Corps were recently forced to cancel their event in the PFC fitness centre in Belfast.

As Cllr Claire Heaney said after an unsuccessful motion proposing to ban British Army recruitment in Queens in November: “This would be a very public demonstration in support of peace. The British Army are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, for extraordinary renditions.' Since than Troops off campus have stepped up their activities and action as only popular pressure will deliver results.

The event organised two weeeks ago by the Officer Training Corps which is designed to provide leadership skills to students at universities across the UK who are interested in a ‘career’ in the British Army was met with opposition from the early morning. Under the watchful eye of undercover cops a couple of protestors unsuccessfully attempted to locate the OTC meeting in the fitness centre. A decision was soon made to re-group after lunch outside the main student union building to re-assess the situation after being told by reliable sources that the OFC would reconvene their training in the afternoon.

By the this stage the protestors swelled to around 30 people including anarchists and republicans of all shades. Despite increased security presence the protestors made their way to the venue and attempted to gain access to the building only to be told that the event had been cancelled by the organisers.

While it remains unclear whether the military recruitment event was actually cancelled a message was sent out loud and clear that militarism will no longer be tolerated on the campus. Places of learning and our a wider society should be neutral and free from the plague of militarism and violence from any source. In recent years OTC schemes have provoked controversy in universities across the UK. 

In March 2008, a motion was passed at the University College London Union Annual General Meeting to ban Armed Forces groups and societies such as the University Royal Naval Unit (URNU), Officer Training Corps (OTC) and University Air Squadron (UAS) from operating within University College London Union locations and events. This action made headlines in the British national press, partly due to an unrelated issue at the time where RAF personnel in Peterborough had been ordered not to wear uniform off-site for fear of aggression from members of the public.

As anarchists and anti-militarists, we are opposed to the forces of militarism and imperialism on an anti-sectarian class basis. Don’t be fooled and used as cannon fodder to serve the interests and power of the ruling class at home and abroad. We believe and fight for a demilitarised libertarian communist society where we the working class are in control of our own destiny, free from the violence and terror of capitalism and the state.