Please join us at the Old Joe clock tower at 5pm on Monday 19 November for a candlelight vigil in support of Matthew Hedges, the British PhD student Matthew Hedges arrested on charges of spying on a study trip to the UAE (the same country where the new University of Birmingham Dubai campus is located 😬).
Matthew’s next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday 21 November. The purpose of the vigil is to put pressure on the UAE authorities to release Matthew and to draw attention to risks students and staff face studying and working in the UAE, including the University of Birmingham’s controversial new Dubai campus.
Please RSVP via our Facebook Event page. This will not only help us ensure we bring enough candles along, it will help more people find out about the event, especially if you share it with colleagues, friends and family.
Background to the case
Matthew was originally detained and charged with spying for the UK Government in May 2018 and is reported to have been held in solitary confinement for the first five months of his detainment.
On 29 October, Matthew was released on bail due to “significant health issues”, pending his court appearance. Authorities have kept his passport. (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/29/uk-academic-matthew-hedges-detained-spying-dubai-released-bail)
Matthew’s case highlights the risks students and staff face when studying and working in the UAE and other countries with poor human rights records.
Risks to students and staff at University of Birmingham Dubai
The Matthew Hedges case is especially concerning in light of the University of Birmingham’s plans to build a new campus in Dubai, the largest and most populous city in the UAE.
Birmingham UCU, along with other campus trade unions and staff and student groups, including the LGBTQ Rainbow Network, have consistently raised concerns over workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights and the safety of staff and students, as well as the treatment of the migrant workforce which is likely to build the new Dubai campus.
The Guardian has recently reported on these concerns (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/14/birmingham-university-warned-of-risk-lgbt-rights-dubai-campus) and Preet Kaur Gill MP, local MP and Shadow Minister, has written to the Vice-Chancellor, seeking guarantees that workers will be paid and treated appropriately (https://twitter.com/PreetKGillMP/status/1060576391387926528).