Huge protests in Finland (13/03), Spain/Catalonia (12/03) and elsewhere!

Finland [13/03]:

From my inbox:

Friday the 13th in Finland - Universitarians in mobilization

In Finland, Friday 13 March 2009 was a national day of action against the new University Act. There were bigger and smaller demonstrations, discussion meetings and occupations at least in Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Joensuu, Oulu and Tampere.

The Finnish Parliament will decide about the law proposal during the spring. Among the university staff and students, there is a strong opposition to the new law - but this opposition has been ignored until now. Only recently, since Opiskelijatoiminta began organizing protests against the law, the critical discussions about the transformations of the university have started to gain more publicity.

In Helsinki, 1500 people (mostly students, researchers, employees) marched from the University of Helsinki towards the Parliament. In the front of the Parliament House, protesters blocked the traffic for some time. The statements of the Minister of Education were criticized harshly in the demonstration. The demonstration went through the city center, and ended up at the campus where few hundreds of people occupied the main building of the University of Helsinki. The occupation is continuing today Saturday.

The title of the demonstration was "Against the new University Act, for knowledge workers' rights". Opiskelijatoiminta stresses that the University Act does not affect only universitarians but also the society as whole. Education and the University should be seen as a field for the struggle for the forms of democracy in the knowledge society. What will be the employees' rights? How can we transform the university into a place for people to encounter, produce information and share it freely?

The struggle against the University Act continues and the struggle to build our university - the common university - has only begun.

We want to send our solidarity to universitarians in the struggle in all countries. Together we can win!

Opiskelijatoiminta
http://opiskelijatoiminta.net/english

"On Wednesday, a petition with nearly 7,000 signatures was submitted to the Parliamentary Education Committee, opposing the bill, and calling for starting work on university reform from the beginning.

The proposed changes have been opposed by students and large numbers of university staff. A key issue is the fear that university would be increasingly business-driven."

More reports in the "mainstream": NewsRoom.Finland.fi, YLE.fi

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Spain/ Catalonia [12/03]:

The following message reached me via email:

Here in Barcelona we've make a big student demonstration rally yesterday thursday the 12, with about 12.000 people. At the end of the manifestation, a part of the central buliding of the university Pompeu Fabra was occupied by about 2000 students, and 200 passed the night inside (the inside of the university:http://www.flickr.com/photos/23647923@N05/3349970902/ & http://www.flickr.com/photos/23647923@N05/3349961470/). this night the police enter in the building and ends the ocupation. At the moment we are making a press release.
The central building of the Barcelona University still remain squatted from 114 days.

saludos desde Barcelona!!!

Rosa

Website of the International Comission located inside the occuppied University of Barcelona:
InterUni-Bcn.Blogsp
ot.Com

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Poland (Gdańsk) [19/03]

"Otwarty Komitet Uwalniania Przestrzeni Édukacyjnych - OKUPÉ" (Open Commitee for Liberation of the Educational Space) from University of Gdańsk (Poland) is calling for a flashmob against the commercialization of education on March 19: OKUPE.blogspot.com

~ UPDATE ~

March 19th, Gdansk. A group of students called for a "flesh mob" happening today at 1pm. At the Social Sciences Department building of the local university, some of the students began behaving like living dead - this time, literally! There was a slight panic when "zombie" students banged into elevators and the doors of the department's restaurant.. However, after 5 minutes other students and University staff could return to their everyday occupations. This action was a protest by the Gdansk Open Commitee for Liberation of the Educational Space (OKUPE) against commercialisation of education and the administration's lack of will to respect the students' and staff's view on important decisions affecting them.

Yesterday, at morning, one of the main gates to the Gdansk University campus were locked by an undercover team, and a banner "Detention Campus?" was hung on the gate. The action was a protest against recent spending of University's money on surveillance and on a fence enclosing the space, and it was aided by posters and fliers spread around the gate, saying that "The University's >>open doors<< are only for 3 days.
Our everyday routine is surveillance and lack of debate". Previously, the University's space was open to the public. The construction of the fence and increased surveillance has been financed in spite of financial difficulties of students and the university itself, and as such has been protested against - although until yesterday, silently.

Both actions were taken during official "Open doors" Educational Marketing Days, 3 days during which educational institutions were able to advertise at the campus, and schools from around the country sent groups of pupils to see the campus and compare higher education facilities. This enabled to spread the message of the will to have a say at the University campus wider than just to the students and staff.

The Gdansk Open Commitee for Liberation of the Educational Space (OKUPE) believes that a debate on how to take decisions at the University affecting all its comunity, is necessary.

Other campuses face similar problems with their administrations, eg. in Poznan on January 14th, the university authorities ignored the traditional autonomy of the University, and let police attack student members of a peaceful protest against Ghaza bombing at the University. Poznan's Anarchist Federation protested against this disrespect of autonomy, and demanded answers from the university authorities. However, the recent answers from the authorities were unserious and sided with the police.


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Recent education protests elsewhere:

  • 10/03: Pomona (U.S. of A.) teachers, parents, and students protest Pomona Unified School District's desision to send out 643 pink slips to lay off teachers: YouTube.Com
  • 10/03: Over 100 SUNY Students met in Albany (U.S. of A.) to protest the tuition hike and budget cuts that were to be voted on by the state legislature. Although students had originally proposed the tuition hike of $620 per semester, the state government decided that SUNY would only be seeing 10% of that money, the other 90% to be used by the state: YouTube.Com (II)
  • 05/03: More than 50,000 New Yorkers (U.S. of A.) from different labor unions, community groups, and non profit organizations came to protest potential budget cuts that are being considered by Governor Paterson in Albany. Students from Hunter College also attended the rally hoping their concerns over a potential $600 tuition increase would be heard: YouTube.Com
  • 02/03: Naked students protest in Manila (Philippines) against tuition fee hikes: YouTube.Com
  • 27/02: UMass Lowell (U.S. of A.) students take to the streets to protest a proposed $1,500 increase in student fees being voted on Friday, Feb. 27, by University of Massachusetts trustees: YouTube.Com
  • 27/02: Philippines; Students led by the League of Filipino Students, Kabataang Pinoy, NUSP hold a protest action at the main office of the Commission on Higher Education. The students demanded a moratorium on tuition: YouTube.Com

Any reports of protests and recent developments from around the world are most welcome!

Comments

Updates from France

I just received the following e-mail:

Hello guys and girls from Barcelona, Copenhagen, Helsinki or somewhere else,

The french universitary movement is a bit heterogenous... Students are not really mobilized in Paris, but the situation is pretty different outside of Paris. Now there is more than 40 universities blocated, and some are occupied (Paris 13, Rouen, Rennes, Toulouse, Caen, Lyon...). Some teachers unions are in negociations with the government to rewrite the decrets about their status, but the large part of teachers broke with the position of the unions and the two main national coordinations (of universities and students coordination) revendicate the abrogation of the law of autonomous universities (law from 2007) and now the national coordination of universities (all delegations are composed by 5 members, teachers, students and personnal people, of more than 120 universities and technic institutes) asked the abrogation of a 2007's law about the privatization of public services (RGPP, Révision générale des politiques publiques) and the financial organic law of 2006 (Loi organique relative aux lois de finance). It also ask to be mobilized against the Bologna process and the Lisbon strategy, and call to act locally on 18th to 20th march against Lisbon strategy and participate to the Louvain counter summit against Bologna. The national student coordination is problematic cause the NPA (New Anticapitalist Party, trotskists) and a student union (UNEF) tried to manipulate it. They don't want to call to occupations, to open the revendications to non-students subjects (immigration, workers...) and to do the link between different national student movements in Europe.

The "active strike" (alternative lessons, etc.) is failed, and now many teachers want a radicalization of the movement, with occupations and blocage. Student coordination call to take streets in non legal demonstrations. These last days, we did intrusions in many train stations to block the traffic, two times in Paris, in Poitiers, Strasbourg... in Rennes students did occupation of a hospital in restructuration to struggle with workers. There has been some autoreduction (collective take of food in supermarkets to redistibuate it in immigrant occupations or to organize some banquets in popular quarters) in Paris (two times), Rouen, Rennes, Toulouse...


The police was really agressive these last days. Some students are at hospital and many have been arrested. All our struggles are reprimed. Tell us if there is similar things in your country
I saw there was the first begin of social movement in Lituania until the fall of authoritarian communism, in the universities. They did a demo, and were 3000 (it's really new in this country) !
In some univerties, international commissions begun to be created.


On wednesday we'll do a debate in a paris university about european mobilization. We'll do some skype video conference with other universities (in france and in south america). If you want to participate, tell us soon. It's at 12:00 (GMT+1) and we can do translations in english, spanish and italian.
Well on 19th march, there will be the next general strike.

Very important !
On 27th march, we'll organize a day about european struggles in a social center in Paris (debates, free music, improvisation theater). It would be really great if some of you could come to Paris. We can house you (maybe in some appartments or in an occupation). After the week end will go to the NATO counter summit (1st to 4th april) in Strasbourg for free. Tell us if you could come.

And now some videos:

The general strike on 29th january
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8JK1uQHsK4
http://www.dailymotion.com/user/FilmIndep/video/x89fn3_manif-29-01-09-pa...

The second take of the Sorbonne:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8kvb4_blocage-de-la-sorbonne-4-mars-20...

Demonstration and police repression in Lyon :
http://rebellyon.info/article6113.html

Demonstration and police repression in Strasbourg :
http://vagueeuropeenne.fr/spip.php?breve52

Blocage of a train station in Paris :

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/k5GDnbyUHjbz7KYwrg

Sincerly,
A. for the Anomalous european wave Paris / vague européenne
http://www.louvain2009.com

PS: don't forget to diffuse these 3 events: local action against lisbon strategy, from 18th to 20th march, the global week of action from 20th to 29th april and the Louvain counter summit the 27th - 28th april.