Protesters disrupt conference on military space law

IMG_0922By Jill Bachelder, published October 29, 2014 in the McGill Daily

“A rational dialogue with the administration will not solve the issues at hand.”

These were the words of a protester at the disturbance of McGill’s Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL)’s five-day Strategic Space Law Intensive Program on October 28. The program is meant to train lawyers in how to navigate space law. About ten people, mostly McGill students, disrupted the conference taking place at the Best Western hotel with chanting and condemnations of the program before pushing past security and escaping arrest.

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New Info: Strikebots and Hypersonic Missiles

Demilitarize McGill has uncovered further evidence of McGill’s complicity in warfare, through reviews of puclicly accessible documents and the submission of Access to Information Requests to the Canadian military.

Unmanned ‘strikebots’

Earlier this year, we made the community aware of work conducted by Prof Inna Sharf at the Aerospace Mechatronics Lab in collaboration with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC- the Candian military’s R&D agency), which aimed at developing small drones for use in the ‘urban battle space’. We have recently become aware that Prof Sharf has conducted parallel research for DRDC which focused on ground robots able to make decisions and act without human intervention. More information, as well as the full set of documents we obtained from the military, is available here.

Hypersonic missiles

For many years, it has been known that McGill’s Shockwave Physics Group has, for decades, been the site of a series of collaborations with both the Canadian and American militaries on thermobaric bombs (fuel-air explosives). Today, we can reveal that some of the SWPG’s more recent research focuses on hypersonic (over 5x the speed of sound) propulsion technologies, likely connected to the major US military efforts to develop hypersonic drones and weapons (notably through the Prompt Global Strike and Falcon programs); the research in question was commissioned by DRDC. More information can be viewed here, and it is also important to point out that documents released in the spring after an Access to Information request to McGill revealed that the Computational Fluid Dynamics lab is also working on hypersonic military technology, via a contract with major US defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

McGill-DRDC psych study on human subjects violated informed consent

Communiqué de presse en dessous – Press release below

Informed Consent Form

Researchers funded by the Canadian military at McGill’s psychology department lied to Somali Canadian research subjects about the military’s involvement in a 2012 study, in a serious breach of research ethics. This disclosure is among several contained in a newly published summary of findings.

Though provisions of the Tri-Council Policy Statement, which governs research ethics across Canada, require informed consent to include a “statement of the research purpose in plain language” as well as “the identity of the funder or sponsor,” McGill researchers fulfilling a DRDC contract communicated neither the military purpose nor the military financing of the research to subjects, according to the consent form included in the report.

This disclosure comes as McGill prepares to begin a research policy review process, which Principal Suzanne Fortier has offered as an answer to mounting student opposition to military research. The flagrant disregard shown by Prof. Taylor and his colleagues for the letter and spirit of research ethics policy casts further doubt on the prospects of restricting military research through policy reform. When research policy presents an inconvenience for McGill’s military researchers, they find a way around it, or in this case, simply ignore it.

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On McGill’s complicity in racialized state violence and the repression of social struggles

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August 2014: A protester in Ferguson, Mo. defends themselves against militarized police aggression.

McGill did not develop the tear gas that was fired night after night at the residents of Ferguson resisting police violence this summer. But a wide array of the University’s military research activity does implicate it in the systems of knowledge and technological development that enable states to violently enforce race and class hierarchies and more effectively repress popular movements. Read our new summary of findings here.

New ‘about us’ section

Recently members of Demilitarize McGill sat down together to write what we hope is a concise and accessible statement of what we’re about. Read it here!

McGill to review research conduct regulations amid military research controversy

By Janna Bryson, published August 6, 2014 in the McGill Daily

Last week, Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) VP University Affairs Claire Stewart-Kanigan released a statement announcing that McGill’s Regulation on the Conduct of Research will undergo review in the 2014-15 academic year. This information was released alongside a callout for reactions to an open letter written by McGill Engineering student Ghalia Elkerdi to Hannah Michalska – a professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering – alleging that military applications of Michalska’s research were contributing to the recent violence in Gaza.

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End the Assault on Gaza, End McGill’s Complicity

Over the past few weeks, Israel has waged a brutal assault on the people of Gaza, leaving nearly 2,000 Palestinians dead and thousands more injured. The casualties are overwhelmingly civilians, and many are children. Although a ceasefire is presently in effect, it is far from permanent, and Israel’s devastating blockade on Gaza, and occupation and colonisation of Palestine, continue.

Tadamon! Montreal's Gaza solidarity demonstration arrives in front of McGill's Arts Building on August 6

Tadamon! Montreal’s Gaza solidarity demonstration arrives in front of McGill’s Arts Building on August 6

We continue to absolutely condemn Israel’s assault and occupation, and wish to reiterate our solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Canada is complicit in Israeli apartheid, and its elite research universities are no exception. Here in  Montreal, McGill University collaborates with the army and with weapons manufacturers to develop some of the technologies essential  to Israel’s murderous incursions in Gaza as well as to Israel’s  capacity to defend its colonial borders and control every aspect of Palestinian daily life.

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Open for business, connected to military contractors, purposefully opaque

All placards Today, Principal Suzanne Fortier laid out her plans for her tenure at McGill in a talk titled “Open, Connected, Purposeful: McGill and the Next Five Years.” Demilitarize McGill and supporters showed up to tell the principal that McGill’s future will not see military research go unchallenged.

Speech banner and placardsFortier recently told the McGill Daily, “I don’t think there’s any problem in doing research for the Department of National Defence”, adding that she thought McGill’s military research was being conducted in an open and above-board fashion, and dismissing concerns about the heavy redaction of documents obtained through Access to Information requests.

Throughout her career, Fortier has pushed for increasing collaborations between universities and industry, such as those that put McGill resources to work in service of defence contractors Bombardier and Lockheed Martin as well as American and Canadian militaries. In supporting these collaborations, Fortier has made clear that her vision for McGill includes an investment in the continuation of armed conflict — which serves as both market and testing ground for the weapons technology developed at McGill — and a commitment to protecting those relationships at the expense of transparency to students or members of the public requesting information.

Despite the rhetoric of transparency and accountability, Fortier’s neoliberal, profit-driven agenda is fundamentally no different than that of her predecessor, Heather Munroe-Blum. Let’s show her that our resistance is as strong as ever!

Standing up to military research

By the McGill Daily Editorial Board, published March 24, 2014

On March 14, Demilitarize McGill, a campus group that works to oppose military research at the university, led a blockade of the Aerospace Mechatronics Laboratory in the MacDonald Engineering building. Despite the blockade being peaceful, McGill called the police, invoking the controversial Operating Procedures Regarding Protests and Occupations on McGill University (the ‘protest protocol’), which states that any obstruction of work at the University is not allowed. The blockade was organized in response to access to information requests revealing that researchers at the Laboratory received over $500,000 in contracts from the Defence Research and Development Centre – an agency of the Department of National Defence – to develop research linked to drones. While researchers at the Laboratory argue that the research has potential applications outside of military use, the fact that some of these applications cause harm is enough to give cause for student opposition.

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University releases heavily redacted ATI requests

By Emma Noradounkian, published March 24, 2014 in the McGill Daily

As part of its ongoing fight for access to information (ATI) requests from McGill concerning the University’s military research, Demilitarize McGill, a campus group that aims to end military research at McGill, has recently released selections from its ATI requests to the University. The group aims to make all such documents public in the upcoming weeks.

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by Bliss Drive Review