A group of approximately 20 people blocked access this morning to the Shock Wave Physics Group (SWPG) laboratories, in the MacDonald Engineering building at McGill University. Banners reading ‘Demilitarize McGill’ were held at the doors and flyers are being distributed reading: “Stop the bombs. Stop the wars. Stop military research on campuses.”
The blockade was described as an act of opposition to military research at McGill and a condemnation of the SWPG ‘s contribution towards the development of thermobaric weapons.
Since 1967, the SWPG has researched thermobaric explosives, often in collaboration with Canadian and American military agencies. Thermobaric explosives have been used in combat by U.S. forces since the Vietnam war, and more recently during urban warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan.The Syrian regime has also used them to kill civilians in rebel-held areas.
Demilitarize McGill is an ongoing campaign organized by students and community members who intend to interrupt McGill University’s history of complicity in war and colonialist violence by ending military research at the institution.
Demilitarize McGill calls for an end to all forms of support for colonialist and imperialist wars, including but not limited to research done by the Shock Wave Physics Group and other labs and institutes on campus. This blockade is meant as an invitation for students to engage in direct action and disrupt the military research happening on their campus.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
New research by Demilitarize McGill reveals that CFD Lab head Wagdi Habashi is pursuing an ongoing collaboration with a U.S. Air Force-funded researcher at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Florida, at the same time as Habashi’s company Newmerical Technologies seeks to expand military-related operations out of its Florida office. The research concerns the use of synthetic jet actuators in Micro Air Vehicles, small-sized drones conceived for both surveillance and attack, to protect them against gusts in ‘urban canyon’ environments. The Embry-Riddle researcher, Vladimir Golubev, receives funding from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and Office of Scientific Research. Read more here.
Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system
Demilitarize McGill is publishing new findings today on a previously unreported, potentially ongoing collaboration between McGill, a missile manufacturer, and Israeli military researchers. A research team revolving around Professor Hannah Michalska in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering obtained contracts with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and collaborated with Lockheed Martin, one’s of the world’s largest defence contractors, as well as military researchers at the Technion in Israel, to pursue numerous research projects on “tracking of maneuvering targets”, with direct application to guided missile technology. Read more here.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) last week released “Open for Business: On What Terms?”, an analysis of university-corporate collaborations across Canada and their implications for academic integrity and the public interest. The report’s examination of the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ) in particular piqued the interest of Demilitarize McGill. By early 2013, CRIAQ had enlisted the participation of 14 universities, 9 research centers, and 52 companies to collaborate on research serving the Quebec aerospace industry. Corporate partners include Bell Helicopter, Bombardier, and CAE, the three companies that are partners in the CFD Lab. While the report does not address military research specifically, it offers a thorough analysis of how corporate funding translates into corporate influence and corporate control over research priorities and objectives.
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Demilitarize McGill intervened in the Remembrance Day ceremony on McGill’s downtown campus Monday morning, dropping a banner from the roof in between the Leacock and Arts buildings to signal mounting opposition to military research on campus. The banner, which read simply “Demilitarize McGill,” appeared at 11:00am, coinciding with the moment of silence and 21-gun salute in the middle of the ceremony.In the McGill Daily, we wrote that Remembrance Day “is a rehearsal of selective feeling as much as selective memory,” that “both responds to the demands of nationalism and develops a justification for the continued imperialist exercise of military power.”
As cannon blasts shook windows across campus, security were slow to react upon seeing the banner, which remained in place for over fifteen minutes before being removed.
In a tentative victory for Demilitarize McGill and others, Quebec’s Commission d’accès à l’information has ruled against McGill’s request to give university administrators the authority to deny future access-to-information (ATI) requests at their discretion.
Outstanding ATI requests, including those concerning military research by the Shock Wave Physics Group and CFD Lab, remain in litigation, as McGill continues to use the court system to at least delay disclosure of the documents that detail its partnerships with militaries and defence contractors.
The McGill Daily: McGill’s request to limit access to information denied
The Telegraph newspaper reported yesterday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has dropped fuel-air explosives (FAEs) on a high school. The attack, which took place in the rebel-held city of Raqqa on 29 September, killed at least 14 civilians. Human Rights Watch identified the bomb likely used as being a Russian ODAB-series fuel-air bomb.
FAEs are the predecessors to what are today termed ‘thermobaric’ explosives. McGill University, through the Shock Wave Physics Group (SWPG), has contributed to the development of both technologies in three major waves of research, beginning in the 1970s. In 2004, a committee of the U.S. National Research Council cited research by McGill Prof. David Frost as offering a needed tool for the development of more lethal thermobaric weapons. In 2013, the SWPG is receiving funding and other resources from the Canadian military for the same type of research.
Demilitarize McGill: Thermobaric Weapons
FAE Attack: Human Rights Watch Report
Backgrounder on Russian FAEs
Be on the lookout for new Demilitarize McGill stickers around campus! Want to get involved in what we’re doing? We’re always open to new people coming to a meeting, proposing an action or an event, or joining our ongoing projects. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, our group has already grown in size, and we’ll be meeting regularly throughout the fall and winter. We intend to build on last year’s successes in researching McGill’s military ties, sharing information with students and the public, and beginning to directly contest the University’s role in the development of the knowledge and technologies that assist the managers of imperialist wars.
Together, we can build our capacity to disrupt military research at McGill!
Published September 13, 2013 in the McGill Daily
It is a matter on which the authority of Empire tends to go uncontested – that of establishing which means of indiscriminate killing are acceptable and which are not. Sarin gas, bad; drones armed with Hellfire missiles, generally alright.
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By Farid Rener, published March 18, 2013 in the McGill Daily
A walking tour of locations where McGill conducts military research started at 3690 Peel, home to McGill’s Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL), on Thursday. The tour – organized by a new incarnation of Demilitarize McGill, a student group that has been dormant since 2010 – was attended by approximately 15 students.
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