Anti-war activists target career fairs

Demonstrators stand outside BU’s George Sherman Union, protesting the inclusion of Raytheon at the College of Engineering’s Career Fair on Feb.6, 2019. (Photo by Alex MacDougall/BU News Service)

By Alex MacDougall
BU News Service

BOSTON – With cries of “no more blood money!” and signs calling for the end of the war in Yemen, protestors outside the George Sherman Union at Boston University made their message clear: They were displeased with BU’s College of Engineering Career Fair.

The protest, organized by Massachusetts Peace Action Network – Next Generation, the Raytheon anti-war campaign (which is also organized by Mass Peace Action) and the Coalition to End the War in Yemen, sought to bring to attention the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia by Raytheon, the Massachusetts-based private defense contractor and one of the companies present at the career fair. The company has come under criticism from activist groups and lawmakers for its association with Saudi Arabia, which is widely considered a totalitarian regime and has been accused of committing various abuses of human rights, including the brutal killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.

Groups such as Human Rights Watch, an international organization based in New York that advocates for human rights around the world, have also called attention to the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, condemning the killing of civilians by Saudi forces, which includes the killing of 44 children after a school bus was bombed by the Saudi coalition.

“We’re out here trying to raise awareness, and trying to tell engineering students specifically they don’t have to work for these companies,” said Ana Milosavljevic, an activist with Mass Peace Action Next Generation and a former BU Student. “We want to show people that they didn’t put all this hard work into problem sets and their degree just to oppress other people.”

Around a dozen protestors stood outside the doors of GSU, holding up signs condemning the war in Yemen and accusing Raytheon of profiteering from the war. Earlier in the day, three members of the group, including Milosavljevic, went inside the career fair and one of them began reciting statistics about the Yemen war until an administrator asked them to step outside and a police officer informed them they had to stand a certain distance from the Raytheon booth to allow students to visit. According to Milosavljevic, another administrator began filming them with a camcorder, which is when they moved outside.

BU News Service reached out to Career Services at the College of Engineering for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

In addition to Raytheon, the protestors also accused BU itself of complicity, owing to the fact that Robert Brown, president of Boston University, is a trustee of the Saudi Arabia-based King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center. Some even went as far to implicate the United States itself in the violence.

“The United States is like the Roman Empire on steroids. BU is just one part of that puzzle,” said George Bryant, one of the protestors who was present at the demonstration. “The US dominates the world by using wars, but they have such good public relations that people don’t see it. They didn’t mention it at all yesterday,” he added, referring to the State of the Union address which had occurred the previous day.

Following the protest at BU, the protest group organized another protest to demonstrate at Tufts University on Friday, where another career fair featuring Raytheon took place. Further protests at UMass Amherst and Northeastern University are also set to take place.

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