Saturday, March 22, 2008

NO2 OU & Raytheon. Ethics letter to OU Wales

Campaign against the St Athan Defence Academy
Cynefin y Werin (Common Ground), is an all Wales network of organisations which promotes equality, peace, justice, human rights and co-operation between nations, peoples and communities on the basis of sustainable environmental, economic and social development.

Please find and read a copy of a letter below - to Mr Humphreys, OU Wales following a recent protest outside the Cardiff office.

The campaign against the proposed military academy at St Athan is concerned
about the impact the partnership with companies like Raytheon , arms dealers
have on international peace and conflict. We want a public debate in Wales
regarding the democratic deficit within the Open University on the decision
to enter into the Metrix Consortium.

The OU is accused of giving this consortium and the proposed privatised training a veneer of respectability. As part of the National Day of Action for University Ethical Investment on
Wed 27th Feb campaign protesters gathered outside the OU Offices in Cardiff. Mr Rob Humphreys, the Director of the Open University in Wales declined to take up a position on behalf of the Open University or one which defined his personal stance. He said that ethics were matters for individuals and as far as the Open University was concerned no formal policy had been determined.

Jeeny Lee who played a key role in the formation of the Open University was against the UK acquiring a nuclear deterrent. Working with war profiteers makes a mockery of the OU promise to promote social justice

Mr. Rob Humphreys Open University in Wales 18 Custom House Street Cardiff CF10 1AP

Dear Mr. Humphreys,

· Why is the Open University involved in a private consortium that is seeking to expand Britain's role in the global arms trade?
· Why is the Open University engaged in a partnership with one of the world's largest manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction?
· Is this not is direct conflict with the Open University's historical commitment to social justice and to using education as a force for social good in the world?

I applaud the Open University’s attention to ethics and last year’s opening of a new Ethics Centre, that will "carry out research to clarify our understanding of key ethical concepts, design new courses to spread ethical understanding and promote public debate about the most pressing moral issues of our time."

But I ask the Open University how it can reconcile its supposed commitment to ethics with its direct participation as a member of the Metrix Consortium, which has won a PFI contract from the Ministry of Defence to open a £14 billion military training centre near the village of St Athan in Wales.

Through the St Athan Defence Training Academy, the OU will now be helping to create a British version of the infamous US School of the Americas of Fort Benning, Georgia. The St Athan Academy will provide military training not just to members of the British Armed Forces, but to soldiers from armies all over the world – who will guarantee that the Burmese Army will not train there? In order to make the most money that it can, the private Metrix Consortium openly intends to use St Athan to expand Britain's role in the global trade in military training and expertise.

Through the St Athan Academy, the OU will also be partnering directly with one of the largest missile manufacturers in the world, Raytheon. On the grounds of ethics, the governments of Norway and Belgium have recently called for full divestment from Raytheon – because of the company's involvement in manufacturing cluster bombs, which kill and injure children and civilians indiscriminately in armed conflicts world-wide. The governments of the Netherlands and Canada are shortly expected to follow suit.

Through the St Athan Academy, the OU will be engaged in openly promoting the culture and economy of militarism, war, occupation, terror and mass environmental destruction.

Open University Vice-Chancellor Brenda Gourley herself has said that "there is no doubt that institutions demonstrate their values most powerfully by their actions rather than their words." She said that universities should “reflect the very best of which the human spirit is capable."

I therefore call on the Open University to cut all ties with the Metrix Consortium and to take a clear stand against the St Athan Defence Training Academy. I call on the students, staff and trustees of the Open University to demand that their institution return to its historical commitment to promoting ethics and social justice through their collective work in higher education.

Note _ The Director Mr Humphries statement
"In meeting those taking part in the demonstration outside The Open University in Wales offices, I listened to the points they made and outlined the University's involvement in the Metrix consortium, which is overseeing the St Athan project.
"The University recognises that Britain's armed services play a vital part in peacekeeping activities all over the world and that it is important that service personnel receive the best education possible for these demanding roles. As a partner in the consortium, The Open University is committed to delivering the highest possible quality of support to this endeavour.
"Since its inception, the University has helped more than 100,000 Services personnel and their families fulfil their potential through education. Participation in the St Athan project will help us to continue that work."

Cynefin y Werin (Common Ground) Y Deml Heddwch, Parc Cathays, Caerdydd CF10 3AP
Temple of Peace, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3AP
Contact us by email

For more information
see also
No to St Athan Military Academy on Facebook

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