Beyoncé has given back the 1 million pounds she made performing for Colonel Gadaffi of Libya (very sad to say we cannot include “former” in such an expression just yet) in a private show in Italy, as have the likes of Nelly Furtado and other American superstars, with perhaps little to no fundamental knowledge of politics outside The Simpsons television programme. However, universities do, through their portals of knowledge; we can acquire degrees, masters, PhDs on the stuff. In fact, some even have the blessed word in their name, cue LSE. Thus, I cannot stomach the pathetic apologies issued by institutions such as LSE, KCL and forgive me if there are more, for accepting loans from the Gaddafi regime, and even more pathetically, at the time when Saif Gaddafi, son of the soon-to-be-I-pray-to-almighty-God former brutal Libyan Dictator Muammar Gadafi, set up the International Charity and Development Foundation in LSE. Did they not know he was just that – the son of a brutal dictator?
I comprehend with respect to the atrocities occurring in Libya at present, that the 41 year old regime has been perhaps more exposed now than it ever has been, and is facing fierce scrutiny from the international community. However, just because bruised and bloodied Libyans have been sprawled across the BBC before, does not mean it’s a novelty. In fact, this has been a regular occurrence under Gaddafi for anyone who opposed him, and despondently only common knowledge outside of Libya to its diaspora, or those in the political know – i.e. universities. My point is, universities have been fully aware of the Gaddafi clan and the extreme violation of human rights the Libyan people have suffered, and are suffering, under their rule. I know for a fact, most British universities campaigned and encouraged students to boycott South African goods under apartheid, and I’m pretty sure they don’t accept loans from Kim Jong-li.
Of course, the media has sensationalized this scandal in light of the revolution in Libya, and I don’t blame them – it’s what the media does – and they are probably earning good money off it too. However, what can only be described as selective and aggravating is that many other universities in the UK, such as the University of Edinburgh, Cambridge and UCL to name a few, have accepted loans from Saudi Arabia and China with little exposure. Both states host some of the most barbaric human rights abuses on the planet, endorsed by their government and ruling elite; from torture and lack of freedom of the press, to women’s rights abuses and persecution of ethnic and religious minorities. And these institutions do not bat an eyelid. Clearly, it is easy to say, why cut off healthy ties with a state just because they have a different political system? If it’s good enough for the neo-liberal market, then it’s good enough for us they say. When I first walked to the gates of my university to embark on my degree in Politics, I sought for an institution that would provide me with morals, with an understanding that human rights were respected and its violation would not be tolerated, and on a more customary level, to become an adult. However, I feel slightly betrayed. Not only do they not care much for the blood dripping off the thousands of pounds from these dictators, but they startle like children when they are actually caught doing it.
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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