What happened today [Nov.17th]

17/11/2009

Today most protests as part of the "Education is NOT for $A£€ - Global Week of Action" are expected worldwide. It also coincides with the "International Students' Day"!

All groups are asked to list their reports (incl. videos and pictures) of protests today inside here or send them directly to united.for.education[at]gmail.com!

Announced actions in advance for today (as far as I know):

  • Germany: protests across Germany called for by close to 100 local alliances: bildungsstreik.net
  • U.S. of A. (San Fancisco): rally and sit-in at the San Francisco State University

  • Sierra Leone (Freetown): demonstration against tuition fees called for by the National Youth Coalition Student Assembly (NYCSA - SL)
  • France: pupils across France are mobilising for protests against a reform, that aims to establish a "two-class" public education system. Demonstrations are expected in at least 26 cities. Close to 3,000 high-schools are involved: frontdeluttepourleducation.fr
  • Republic of Macedonia (Skopje): Flashmobs and open discussion on the necessity of free and emancipatory public education: Sloboden Indeks (Free Index)
  • Switzerland: various protests - among which are also demonstrations - are being arranged in Bern, Basel, Geneva and Zürich: unsereuni.ch
  • Italy: Demonstrations in more than 50 cities across the country called for by the Unione degli Studenti (UdS)
  • Austria: Day of Action across Austria - rallies, flashmobs, public discussions: unsereuni.at
  • Hungary: Rally in front of the Austrian embassy in Budapest
  • Indonesia: Demonstrations are to take place in Yogyakarta, Makassar and Palu (Sulawesi), Samarindo (Borneo), Temate (Maluku) and Mandura: lmnd-prm.blogspot.com
  • Bangladesh (Dhaka): Opening of gallery on campus of Jagannah University displaying pictures of student protests from around the world.

An "overview" of further planned actions as part of the week of action can be viewed here.

Switzerland

  • Demonstration in Geneva with 250 people; good spirit and noisy [video]. After the protest they attempted to occupy a lecture hall, but the majority inside the hall reject to squat it.
    For thursday [Nov.19th] a big plenary meeting is planned!
  • 300 - 400 people began to occupy a lecture hall at the University of Bern. [report in German]
  • 500 students in Zürich began to occupy a lecture hall today, after staging a "Bologna kindergarten" in front of the uni. All seminars inside the largest lecture hall of the university were cancelled in advance by the administration as a measure to prevent students from squatting a space. [report in German]
  • [Students in Basel have been squatting lecture halls at their university for the past few days already.]

Website of the movement in Switzerland: unsereuni.ch

Germany

  • 90,000 lecturers, pupils, students, parents and workers in more than 50 cities across Germany protested against the increasing commercialisation and privatisation (as well as the implementation of the "Bologna Process") today.
  • 3,000 protesters on a demonstration in Essen; police attacks demonstration:154 temporary arrests [lerex.de]

  • Further demonstrations took place in the following cities (with the number of protesters in brackets): Aachen (2,000; pix), Wiesbaden (10,000), Berlin (25,000), Heidelberg (2,500), Munich (10,000), Mainz (3,000), Darmstadt (500), Osnabrück (2,000; pix), Düsseldorf (4,000), Potsdam (1,000), Jena (1,500), Bonn (2,500), Bochum (700), Hannover (1,000), Cologne (3,000, pix), Regensburg (1,000), Freiburg (5,000; report), Karlsruhe (500), Duisburg/Essen (3,000), Hamburg (2,000), Münster (2,500), Greifswald (400; report) and Nürnberg (5,000) = a total of ~ 88,000 protesters

 

  • Lecture halls were occupied by students today at the following institutions: College of Education in Weingarten, Georg-Simon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences (Erlangen), University of Nürnberg-Erlangen (largest lecture hall "Audimax" in Erlangen), University of Applied Sciences in Kaiserslautern, University of Bonn [but evicted by police force shortly after tonight; pix], University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam, University of Augsburg [pix], University of Erfurt, University of Münster [re-occupied after eviction on Nov.6th], University of Jena [although police was using pepper spray on campus], Academy of Fine Arts in Nürnberg, University of Passau, University of Paderborn, University of Cologne, University of Tübingen [re-occupied after eviction on Nov.11th], University of Trier, Otto-Friedrich University of Bamberg, University of Karlsruhe, University of Siegen, University of Applied Sciences in Emden [report in German], University of Technical University of Braunschweig and Academy of Arts in Braunschweig.

U.S. of A.

  • Strike continued at the University of Illinois: uigeo.org

Received by email:

"Today, the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA, went on strike against the University of Illinois Administration for its refusal to guarantee tuition waivers in our new contract. As our press release states, cutting tuition waivers would make graduate education untenable for all but the most affluent students. We had over 1000 people on the picket lines today, and will be standing in solidarity with you when we go out again tomorrow. We hope that our administration will see that we will not watch idly as they try to corporatize and privatize our university.

For more information, see our website at http://uigeo.org, or the press release."

 
  • Message recieved by email earlier today:
    "This is just to let you know that there was a student demonstration and rally protesting state budget cuts to education and tuition hikes at the City College of New York today. Sponsoring organization was Students Educational Rights."

 

Italy

  • According to Unione degli Studenti (UdS) 150,000 pupils and students in more than 50 cities across Italy took to the streets to protest education reforms and the increasing commercialisation and privatisation of public education.
  • The following list of cities (and number of protesters in brackets) was published by UdS: Rome (10,000), Turin (15,000), Genoa (5,000), Naples (10,000), Bari (7,000), Lecce (2,000), Florence (3,000), Cosenza (3,000), Salerno (8,000) and many other cities.
  • According to a comment here the Rectorats' office at the University of Turin was occupied by students for one night.
  • News report on protests in Milan and Turin [in Italian]:

Overview of protests in Italy on Nov.17th can be accessed on uniriot.org [in Italian].

 

Indonesia

Various groups united under the name "Gerbang Revolusi Makassar" protesting during a demonstration together in Makassar (South Sulawesi).

Reports from other cities are expected soon.

Austria

  • 2,000 people gathered at a rally in Vienna.
    There were general assemblies in more than 20 institutions within the University of Vienna.
    Apparently close to 300,000 people gathered across Europe to protest for free and emancipatory public education!
  • Smaller protest actions took place in various other cities like Linz, Innsbruck and Graz [setting up huge banners; street theatre (auctioning lecturers; pix), disrupting a meeting of local politicians and distributing leaflets, presenting demands during a cabaret show].

Main website of the movement in Austria: unibrennt.at

France

  • Pupils in more than 26 cities across France were involved in demonstrations. Close to 3,000 high schools were involved.
  • The following list of cities (and number of protesters in brackets) was published by "Front de Lutte pour l'Education": Rouen (1,000), Grenoble (500), Rennes (400), Quimper (250), Dimard (150), and many more. Further details are expected soon.
  • Bigger protests are expected on Nov.24th, when students and pupils unite in their actions.

Poland

1st report [received by email]:

"At Gdansk University today (17/11) a rally was held to celebrate the International Students' Day and to protest against changes planned by the government. The proposed changes include further cuts on education spenditure, introduction of official corporate sponsorship over public education facilities, and extending tuition fees (now in function only for extramurals) onto s.c. stationary studies. The rally was concieved by the Democratic Students Association and was joined by anarchist students from the OKUPE Comitee and other supporters of free education and education-related debate. We visited several faculties of the University as well as the Uni Library, calling fellow students to get organised, and indicating our conception of education as a common good and not an object of commercial trade. Some of the listeners actually came to talk to us on politics, which unfortunately is already a big success, while the University Administration got us spied on by their guards. A press release in Polish is on the OKUPE website: okupe.blogspot.com"

more pictures here

------------------------------------------------

2nd report [received by email]:

"On 17th of November, the International Students' Day, at 5 minutes before noon in many academic cities of Poland students from Democratic Students Association organized "ALARM FOR EDUCATION".

Hundreds of Polish students from many universities went on the streets to protest against bad conditions in which they must study today, the government plans to introduce reforms which assume payments for taking a second faculty, as well as the “Bologna Process” and the commercialization of education.


In Bialystok on the University Square of Bialystok University, more than 150 students gathered to protest. Students brought with them banners saying "Education is not for $AL€!" and "Alarm for education! NO for paid studies" and etc. Despite the nasty weather, it was very loud and the atmosphere was hot.

To show where the commercialization leads, students performed a simulated auction of different University Departments.
Students from the Democratic Students' Association and from the OKUPE Committee met in front of University Library in Gdansk. After several minutes of making a huge noise and chanting: "We want education, not privatization!" and “Education is a right, not a privilege!”, students handed out leaflets and talked about the educational problems with colleagues from the University.

Nearly 200 people participated in the flash-mob organized at the University of Silesia in Cieszyn. In protest against the commercialization of education, students froze in a long queue to the Dean's Office.

Similar actions were held in Warsaw, Lodz, Torun, Biala Podlaska, Olsztyn, Krakow and Lublin where hundreds of students participated in protests.
The action of the Democratic Students' Association usually met with enthusiastic reactions. Many students emphasized their satisfaction with the fact that someone finally decided to start a real defense of their rights and interests.
"Alarm for education!" also attracted a huge media interest.

Information and reports appeared in almost all media, both nationwide and locally.
All this shows the validity and need for the initiative taken by our appointed Democratic Students' Association. We hope that we have made the first step to rebuild students' social movement, which was in Poland several years ago and is still strong in Western Europe and the world!

With solidarity in struggle,

Democratic Students' Associaction"

Videos: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

Skopje [Rep. of Macedonia]

Report sent in by mail from the Uni of Skopje:

"The event started at around 12:30 CET with a flashmob on the plateau of the University in front of the statue of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. The flashmob turned out better than we expected!

We will upload a video of it on youtube and send you the link.

Afterwards, we had a speech about the importance of free and emancipatory education, that we are not alone, that students from all over the world face the same problems, that the struggle is international. Then we had a memorial for the nine students and professors executed on the 17th of November 1939 in Prague.

Then, at around 1:30pm we held an open discussion on the topic "Why free and emancipatory education?" lasting for about two-two and a half hours. After that we showed few short clips of student protests and occupations around the world, and 2 documentaries, 1 about the student demonstrations in 1968 in Belgrade, Serbia, and another one about the occupations in April 2009 in Zagreb, Croatia.

We were about to show more movies, but we got evicted by a professor who had a class in that room. We would have refused to leave, but most of the audience left and there was no point in staying plus we were all tired and hungry and all...

Overall, the outcome of the event was satisfactory. Not all the movies planned were shown, but our plan is to continue showing them and also hold similar discussions on all colleges in the future."

Budapest [Hungary]


On November 17 a group of activists and students came to the Austrian embassy to express their support to and solidarity with Austrian students and squatters.
The demonstration started at 10.20am after majority of people gathered on the opposite side of the street.

First, we tried to ring the bell of the embassy, so that someone will go outside and take the support letters addressed at the Austrian ambassador in Hungary. Unfortunately, these tries had no result, as nobody came out. Then we started the demonstration itself. We wanted to put the transparencies and banners on the windows of the embassy, but as the embassy building belongs to Austria, and not Hungary, we could not do that. Instead, we were holding the banners in front of the embassy.

At 10.35am the official part started. I held a speech about the reasons for us to gather in the morning in front of the Austrian embassy instead of doing other things. 


Two major reasons were the following:

  • Solidarity with Austrian students who occupied the universities to protest against fees increase and discrimination.
    The date, 17 November, was chosen due to the fact that 9-18 November marks the Global Week of Action "Education is not for Sale".
    During this w
    eek a number of solidarity actions, demonstrations and blockades of the universities were taking place all around the world, from US to Bangladesh.
  • Solidarity with squatters from Vienna who were evicted on 12 October from the newly squatted building in Vienna that was supposed to become a new social center.

During the speech some people were going out and in the embassy, and we were asking them to take the letters to the ambassador. At last one person agreed to call some official representative who could take the letters.
At the very end of the speech, the door opened and two people went out.
The person who was an official representative was friendly, and listened to the reasons for us being there with interest. Then he took the letters and promised to give them to the ambassador. 


After his each of us expressed our reasons of being present at the demonstration. The major reason was, apparently, solidarity with Austrian students and squatters. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to leave the banners at the embassy or on the trees in front of it.
Therefore we took them with us and brought them to the university of Fine Arts where an informal lecture on student occupations and
demonstrations is planned on 18 November - the last day of the action week.

Source: IndymediaCall.Blogspot.com

Kiev [Ukraine]

On 17 November students of Kiev celebrated their professional holiday with a protest action “Student’s Day. Break the Wall”. They were protesting against the repressive education system and expressing their solidarity with students in Austria and Germany that occupied more than 70 universities.

In front of the main Red Building of Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev an independent student union "Direct Action" made a performance symbolizing overthrow of the existing education system.

While Pink Floyd music (‘We don’t need no education…”) was playing, the students went behind a screen with the words "education system" on it and came out in similar robot masks. A few minutes later smoke went out from the screen followed by some small explosions. After this symbolic wall representing repressive education fell down and two dozen students took off the masks and displayed a banner with the words "Student Solidarity”.

The Union activists believe that modern education brings to students stereotyped thinking, conformism and competition spirit among the students. Instead, free education should bring mutual solidarity and ability to question things.

The participants of the demo stated: "While in Ukraine the Bologna system is being introduced only now, students and teachers in Europe have already started with her uncompromising struggle. In Austria and Germany more than 70 universities are occupied, and today there are demonstrations with hundred thousand participants in these countries. Also pupils in Greece started school occupation out of solidarity."  In solidarity with European colleagues, the students were holding banners that were aimed to support calls for protests in Austria, Germany and Greece.

"Direct Action" activists also reminded that the International Students' Day is celebrated in order to commemorate the murder of five students and teachers who came to protest in Prague and were killed by Nazis.  "In a situation of total absence of any rights the students have nothing to celebrate!" the participants emphasized that in a situation of total absence of any rights the students have nothing to celebrate.  In their view, the Students' Day in Ukraine should gain its initial meaning as the students’ rights day.

Source: IndymediaCall.Blogspot.com [English] - News.Zaraz.org [Ukrainian], video

Hull [UK]

Report received by email:


"Hi Everyone

On tuesday Hull Free Education Network held a demo and banner drop on campus as part of the global week of action for free education. On the day we started to gather at around 9:45-10:00, we were a bit disapointed when at the designated start time, only 5 or so people had turned up, but we were soon joined by 10 other activists, at this point we decided to drop the banners, the students in the common room where we droped the banners from were very suportive of what we were doing.

By around mid day we had reached 25 in number and student media came out to interview mmbers and film what was going on. The chanting did cause one complaint from a lecturer who said that although she supports us, she did need to work, and could we keep chanting to a minimum.

We then decided to take the banners down and do a mini march around campus, this got a lot of attention with many students taking pictures and some shouting their support.

The march ended outside the students union.

For the demo, The President of the Students Union Jamie Scudamore, forced sabbaticle officers Chris Marks and Alice Marshall into "taking a Holiday" as he would not allow them to take part in their official capacity.

We have also found out that university management plan on cutting the gender studies course at Hull, the union is organising a meeting about it which Hull Free Education Network will support.

Dispite the local tories claiming that the demo on tuesday alienated students, and that they don't support our cause, the FB group continues to grow, and we are steadiliy building the movement in Hull.

In Solidarity

Matt"

 

Further reports...

... from Bangladesh and Sierra Leone are expected to come in soon.

Thank you for this great

Thank you for this great report of this incredible day ! I was in France, in the city of Rouen when it happened.