A vigil was held on Wednesday the 13th next to Google’s UK headquarters in King’s Cross to remember Mai Ubeid, a former worker and intern in a Google-backed company, who tragically lost her life in Gaza during an Israeli airstrike on October 31.
Organized by Google employees and supporters of the No Tech for Apartheid campaign, the event in London follows recent vigils held in New York and Seattle, reflecting a growing international movement among tech workers.
Mai Ubeid graduated from a Google-funded coding bootcamp, Gaza Sky Geeks, and later interned at a firm that was part of the Google for Startups accelerator program in 2020.
Despite her health challenges — Ubeid used a wheelchair as a result of muscular dystrophy — at university she was a valedictorian, which helped her secure a Google-backed internship. She aspired to create a startup for those with disabilities.
A number of people present at the vigil highlighted the ethical contradictions in tech companies like Google.
One Google worker and campaign organizer pointed out the irony in Google’s support for Mai’s community while still partnering with forces that have long oppressed them: “The disparity between Google’s proclaimed ethics and actual deeds is sharply highlighted by Mai’s story, underscoring a significant contradiction.”
This was echoed by a Deepmind employee at the vigil, who said “there is a stark contrast between Google’s treatment of their employees in Israel, who were evacuated on a chartered flight after the October 7th attack, versus how Google has ignored the fate of Gazans like Mai.”
Workers from Amazon and Google have been advocating for years through the No Tech for Apartheid campaign, calling for an end to the $1.2 billion cloud contracts with the Israeli government and military.
In light of recent actions in Gaza, thousands of workers have signed petitions urging their executives to terminate these contracts.
Gabriel Schubiner, an ex-Google employee and campaign organizer for the US movement, said “cloud technology is extremely powerful and providing that power to a violent military and to an apartheid government is not a neutral act.”
The vigil aimed not only to remember Mai Ubeid but also to bring attention to the broader issues of militarism and ethical responsibility in the tech industry, echoing sentiments expressed at similar events in New York and Seattle.