divendres, 3 d’abril de 2009

Eviction of students from the University of Barcelona

Riot police today violently evicted 53 students from the University of Barcelona. The students had been peacefully occupying the university for the past 4 months as part of a protest against the implementation of the Bologna Process (a series of educational reforms).

At approximately 5.30am on the 18thMarch 2009, 40 “Mossos d’Esquadra” (autonomous Catalan police force) entered the historic building of the UB's rectorate. The eviction was carried out with no forewarning. Police dragged students from their beds and out into the road. They filmed all those who were in the building and took down the identification details of the occupying students. The gratuitous violence which occured inside the building was not filmed and no press were present inside, consequently the police have claimed to have acted “peacefully” and released their heavily edited footage to the media.

Once all the students were outside of the building, teachers, administrative staff and the media began to arrive. Police blocked entrances to the university and then charged into students who had peacefully sat down outside the university, occupying part of Gran Via. a main road which runs outside. The charge was ruthless and unprovoked. Police arrested 6 students and injured 20, some of which had to be attended to by paramedics. The nature of the police charge suggests they already had certain students marked out for detention.

In addition, security guards, who worked at the university, took it upon themselves to identify and detain students who started to walk to the Raval faculties (home of philosophy and the humanities, a different campus of the same university).

Prior to the eviction, students had called a referendum to vote on the Bologna Process in order to force a dialogue with the unwilling rectorate. 93.1 percent of the participating students voted against the process. Shamefully, the results of the vote were completely ignored by the university, making it clear that any attempt to achieve dialogue using institutional means is null and void. Instead the university senate called in police to silence the students. As democratic avenues of dissent are being closed down, it leaves no option but for students, teaching staff and the people of Barcelona to take to the streets to voice their concerns. In doing so, they will face a government campaign of intimidation, manipulation and violent repression.

The fact that the referendum was ignored and police called in to silence demonstrators is a sudden and shocking reminder of the repressive tactics used during the Francoist dictatorship. Police had not been authorized to enter the UB's historic building since the dictator's death. For a country relatively new to democracy, this signals a disturbing return to the repressive, fascist control of the citizens of Barcelona.

In the last few hours, the Coordinadora d’Assemblees d’Estudiants (Student Assembly Co-ordinator, CAE) has called for the immediate resignation of the rector of the UB, Dídac Ramírez, the president of the ACUP (The Catalan Association of Public Universities), Josep Joan Moreso (also rector of Pompeu Fabra University), Josep Huguet (Catalan Innovation, Universities and Companies Minister) and Joan Saura (Catalan Interior Minister, responsable for police actions).

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