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Khartoum: Appeal for Tuition Fee Waiver followed by State Repression leads to Student Uprising

Karthoum, December 2012:
Appeal for Tuition Fee Waiver followed
by State Repression leads to Student Uprising
- at least four Students Died

Students continued their protests in Khartoum (Sudan) on Monday, 10 December. Four Darfuri students from Gezira University were found in a canal in Wad Madani a day before.

Human Rights Watch reports in a press release:

The students were reported missing earlier in the week during protests over the university’s refusal to register Darfuri students unless they paid full tuition.

On December 2, national security officials entered the university and arrested 11 Darfuri students who had appealed to the administration for a fee waiver. In the following days, students protested at the university. Police, national security officers, and pro-government students clashed with the protesters.

Approximately 60 were arrested on December 5, according to Sudanese groups following the case. Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said the government security forces pushed the protesters toward the canal, causing several students to fall in. Six protesters were reported missing, including the four whose bodies were later recovered from the canal. Two other students are still missing.

Khartoum's police force announced in a press statement issued late Sunday night that 47 people were arrested for 'attempted disturbance'. It was added that 'the students were blocking traffic and creating chaos and riots, in addition to damaging of public and private property, including a bus and a number of public transport vehicles'.

The statement said that the police is 'in control' of the situation 'without causing injuries among the protesters'.

However, the Darfur Student Organization rejected the police's statement and stressed that the National Congress Party (NCP) 'militia' and the police used excessive violence against the students. The spokesman of the organization added that a number of students were arrested and several injured after the first day of protests.

Injured student, Omda Mohamed Suleiman, told Radio Dabanga that government forces used excessive violence against the protesters on Sunday. He explained that security forces supported by Rabata, students supporting the NCP, attacked the demonstrators with teargas, batons and sticks, leaving several students, including him, injured. Suleiman added they had seen security forces arresting a number of students.

The second day of protests started from Neelain University where crowds of students gathered. Sources told Radio Dabanga that approximately four thousand students protested all over Khartoum.

It was reported that the security and police forces used excessive violence against the peaceful protesters; beating them with batons, spraying them with teargas and using live ammunition and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.

According to eye-witnesses, at least 60 students were injured in Monday's protests.

The National Commission for Human Rights expressed its concern about the violations which occurred during the student demonstrations in Khartoum and the subsequent student arrests on the International Day for Human Rights.

The Commission stressed in a statement issued on Monday that during the recent events a number of rights, which are included in the Sudanese constitution, were violated such as the right to life, the right to education and the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression.

According to activists renewed clashes between students and police took place at the Islamic University in Omdurman on Tuesday, 11 December. Some say that the student dorms are on fire.
Furthermore they report on blottr.com that
"over the weekend eight young students were killed by government forces attempting to dismantle protesters' roadblocks in Wau, in the state of Western Bahr el Ghazal."

From June through August of 2012, Sudanese security forces cracked down on a wave of student protests, sparked initially by austerity measures, in towns across Sudan.

videos of December 9th:

Dec.03, New York City: Occupation at one of last tuition free universities in the country

Dec.03, New York City:
Students Occupy Building to Resist Tuition Fees

Cooper Union students seized the clock tower atop the school’s headquarters and hung a banner urging the administration to keep the school tuition-free for undergraduates.

The school has not made a decision on charging tuition for undergraduates. But in April, it decided to begin charging tuition to graduate students for the first time in its 110-year history. The school’s president, Jamshed Bharucha, said then that he was searching for ways to keep undergraduate education free for classes after the one entering in 2013.

To understand the context better, it helps to know that Cooper Union is a private college fully dependent on private donors and with around 1,000 students.

Cooper is considered to be one of the most prestigious colleges in the United States [...].

As a result, Cooper Union is one of the most selective colleges in the United States, with an acceptance rate generally below 10%, with both the art and architecture schools' acceptance rates often below 5%. Cooper Union experienced a 20% increase in applications for the 2008–2009 academic year, further lowering the acceptance rate.

- wikipedia.org

The protesters released the following statements:

Siegen, Nov.7: Rectorate occupied !!

Siegen, Nov.7th:
150 Students occupy University Rectorate

The following is a translation of the press release of those who occupied the rectorate at the University of Siegen (Germany), located in the city centre, following a general assembly earlier today.

PRESS RELEASE OF THE STUDENT PROTEST GROUP AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SIEGEN

The protests of the students just reached a new high at 11:10am:

A part of the protest group occupied the rectorate at the University of Siegen. The protest group is independent of all pre-existing student bodies and consists of students from all faculties, who are more than unsatisfied with the current conditions at the university. With this occupation we don't only want to vent our anger through a disruptive action, but create a space, which can be used to critically reflect on and discuss the role our university as well as the education system as a whole within society.

We give our protest a wider perspective, than to just get rid of temporary grievances, and a space, which we can't don't have available on our overcrowded campus. The protest of many participants is linked to their hope, that through our criticism and demands something would change. That we ourselves can create change. But what should change? And how would it be better? What do we imagine when we hear "humanly shaped future", the motto of the university decided by our rector - and why does nobody, but ourselves, speak of a humanly shapred present? And could our ideas and visions actually be turned into reality under the given conditions? What are the possible scopes within the systems and when do we hit the boundaries? 

What roles does the 'ivory tower' university even play in our society? And who is the correct addressee for our criticism and demands? Who is responsible for these unreasonable conditions, and who could change something about this administration of misery? Or can't the grievances even be traced back to individual protagonists, like the rector?

We want to discuss these questions with students, but are not anymore willing to be lulled into 'future talk' by the rector again! This occupation of the rector's office is therefore a deliberate break from previous forms of protests.

For a truly humanly future,
the protest group from the occupied rectorate.

Original in German: blogs.uni-siegen.de (.pdf)

UPDATE: Following threats to have the occupation violently evicted by riot police, the students left the building again in the evening. (de.indymedia.org)

media reports and other sources (in german): asta.uni-siegen.de + de.indymedia.org + derwesten.de + wirsiegen.de

Taipei, Nov.7: Increase of tuition fees sparks more protests

Taipei, Nov.7th:
Increase in Tuition Fees sparks more Protests

Now it is official: Universities in Taiwan can increase tuition fees by 5-10% per year from 2013 onwards.
To make a stand against this policy hundreds of students, workers and teachers' union activists planned to occupy the second public hearing organised by the National Academy for Educational Research (NAER) in Taipei. The first public hearing was already successfully occupied on October 30th.

Unexpectedly. the NEAR called off the public hearing a day before. In light of these developments students, labor workers and teachers rallied at the Ministry of Education and decided to protest the tuition fee policy there. According to activists on the ground police forces prevented the crowd from breaking through the gates of the ministry.
For now, the government announced that tuition fees at colleges will not rise for the next semester only.

mainstream media report: taipeitimes.com

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