Tuesday, February 16, 2010

University of Arizona Community for Human Rights calls on university to sever Motorola ties

A University of Arizona student group, the Community for Human Rights, has called on UA to sever its connections with Motorola due to the company's complicity in human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Check out this article by Jennifer Koehmstedt in the University of Arizona Daily Wildcat entitled "Human rights violations: UA group calls for President Shelton to sever UAPD-Motorola contract":
"UA administrators are resisting a recommendation by UA students to terminate the university’s contract with the Motorola Corporation. Students say the company is complicit in human rights violations because of contracts they have with the Israeli government, which is militarily occupying Palestinian lands. In 1999, the University of Arizona Police Department entered into a $203,000 contract with the Motorola Corporation for radio and communication equipment. The contract is still active today. Students from the UA Community for Human Rights, a student-led group working on issues related to university contractors and human rights, are asking UAPD to end their contract with Motorola. Students say the contract violates the UA Code of Conduct because of Motorola’s alleged human rights violations."
The same issue of the Daily Wildcat is carrying an op-ed piece by UA student Gabriel Schivone, entitled "Dial D for Death." The piece highlights the connections between educational institutions, multinational corporations, and human rights abuses:
"Transnational companies such as Motorola, and Caterpillar, for that matter, have no business contributing to violence. They must not interfere in the important work of the numerous health, human rights and humanitarian groups whose brave work on the ground is meant to ensure the health and safety of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. But as long as companies like Motorola remain knowingly complicit in savage human rights crimes, we have no business dealing with them. Yet, shamefully, at the moment we are and have been dealing with them for ten years. The difference is that we, as a university, and as individuals that comprise it, cannot control what Motorola does. We can, however, control our relationship with them."
A previous column in the school paper covered the history of BDS work at UA, including as part of anti-sweatshop campaigns and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Inspired by the work of these UA students and students at dozens of other universities working to sever ties with corporate human rights abusers? Check out opportunities to participate in upcoming boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) trainings by clicking here.