University of Birmingham managers refuse to lobby the UAE for Matthew Hedges’ release ‖ MP raises concerns with David Eastwood ‖ A vigil will be held on 19th November

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We are deeply concerned about the safety of staff and students on the Dubai campus. We wrote a letter to the university with a series of questions and reassurances that we need from them (the letter is available here http://uobunison.org.uk/letter-dubai-campus) but all we received was a vague response with a series of links to intranet pages. 
We are thankful to the Edgbaston MP, Preet Gill, for raising concerns about the University’s activities in Dubai – we have attached her letter below. Follow her on Twitter here.
A vigil will be held on Monday 19th November by the clock tower, at 5pm in support of Matthew Hedges, the Durham University PhD student who has been released on bail after spending six months in solitary confinement in the UAE. His court hearing will take place on the 21st of November, but he could be taken back to jail at any point. Please join us and let’s show solidarity with a student who has been deeply mistreated in the UAE. The University of Birmingham should have taken an active role in lobbying the UAE for his release; however, in their response to our letter about Matthew, Professor Robin Mason (Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) and Executive lead for LGBT+ equality) stated the following: 
‘While we understand the high level of concern around the recent case of a British PhD student, it is important to note that every university has its own policies that govern the way staff and students live, travel, study and undertake research internationally. As such, they would expect to manage any issues relating to their own staff or students in accordance with these polices; interference by other institutions would then potentially be unhelpful‘ (our own emphasis).
We strongly condemn the University of Birmingham’s choice to conveniently sit on the fence. This is clearly not good enough, and it shows not only the limited power that institutions have in actually protecting their students and staff, but also senior management’s unwillingness to hold their ‘partners’ to account.  
All staff meeting on 22nd November 
Please attend the all staff meeting on the 22nd of November at 12.00pm in The Dome Lecture Theatre, Aston Webb. Roger Godsiff (MP for Hall Green) will be our guest speakers. Members from all trade unions on campus will be there, and we encourage you to ask non-members to attend too!
If you can’t attend the meeting at 12pm, please come to room G13 in the Nuffield Building at 9.15am on the same day.

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