Daily Archives: May 16, 2010

University of Puerto Rico under Siege

From Occupy California:

14 MAY 2010

HUMANITIES ACTION COMMITTEE
TO STUDENTS AND CIVILIANS WORLDWIDE

STATE OF PUERTO RICO LOCKS STUDENTS INSIDE UNIVERSITY

Just yesterday, May 13th, the students of Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico ratified the 22 day strike with an evident majority of votes in favor at a General Assembly that was proposed and organized by the institution’s own administration. Today, that same administration backed with full government support have intensified and reinforced their repressive schemes against the student movement stepping over our constitutional right to protest. We condemn rector Ana Guadalupe’s decision to activate the police forces against us and we reiterate yesterday’s vote demanding her resignation as well as president Jose Ramón de la Torre’s. Since 4am there has been heavy police presence around the campus; different police units have been brought to guard all possible entrances and to restrict access of students and those in solidarity. We wish to publicly alert the national and international media that up until now they have prohibited not only the entrance of civilians, but also, and more alarming, the entry of food donations and supplies needed by the hundreds of students that are currently occupying the campus. The students that reside on campus are being forced to move out and are being threatened with the non-renewal of housing contracts. We also expect water and electricity on campus to be cut off by 1:00pm.

We exhort all students, professors, workers and civilians; every member of every community, to surround the university gates as they have done themselves. We exhort everybody’s presence here today; we need everyone’s solidarity and support if we are to endure this struggle. We want to let the administration know that their attempts to intimidate have been not only repressive but exaggerated and unnecessary. We will not allow that the democracy of the university’s administration proclaims to practice be arbitrary and partial. Those who participated in the Students’ General Assembly yesterday, experienced a real democratic process in action. The assembly is sovereign and in assembly we voted to continue the strike. We are here to defend the right of all Puerto Rican students to a public education and here we will remain until the administration decides to cooperate and negotiate.

We need everyone’s solidarity and support. Ten out of eleven campuses that make up the UPR system have declared themselves on strike. All are participating in the same struggle. The same struggle being fought all over the World.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Humanities Action Committee
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus

More

  • A National Strike has been called for Tuesday, May 18th!
  • photos:

  • Video of the aftermath of a student being beat after trying to get onto campus:

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From the Facebook page for the May 18 solidarity protest in NYC:

On the 22st day (May 14th) of the University of Puerto Rico student strike: The situation in Puerto Rico has intensified. Over the last few days the university students have demonstrated heroic & militant resistance. Yesterday, at a huge assembly of students at the PR Convention Center, students overwhelmingly decided to to step up the 22-day takeover/strike at the University of PR despite intimidation & harassment attempts by the university administration.

The colonial government has responded with intolerance and repressive police tactics. On this day the riot police squad was mobilized against the students! Water has been cut off to the Rio Piedras campus, the campus dorms have been evacuated, and folks have been arrested for simply trying to pass water & food through the fences to the striking students. The father of a striking student who was bringing food and water was beaten and then arrested.

Fortunately, the blockade was broken when hundreds of professors, parents, and supporters began to arrive with water and bags of food, which they successfully tossed over the fence and over the heads of the cops, unable to stop them in front of the TV cameras. In the face of this repression, hundreds of parents, workers, community leaders and concerned have joined the picket lines (at all the island campuses) to protect the striking students.

Later in the day, José Pérez, a disabled graduate student who has won the love and respect of the entire striking community for his militancy and dedication, was badly beaten, dragged on the floor, and arrested for “aggression” when he attempted to re-enter the campus, after leaving momentarily to take care of personal affairs. Professors and fellow students who tried to come to his aid were doused in pepper spray. Two more students have been also been arrested for unknown reasons.

This afternoon, the workers unions of Puerto Rico have announced a general strike (work stoppage) for Tuesday May 18th in unity with the student movement and to denounce the confrontational politics of the colonial government of PR.

A call has been made to all people & workers to mobilize in unity with the students at all the various UPR campuses on the island.

In NYC, the Network in Support of the Workers of PR CALLS for ALL TO DENOUNCE THE REPRESSIVE GOVERNMENT AND FOR SOLIDARITY WITH THE STRUGGLE OF WORKERS AND STUDENTS OF UPR.

Join the NYC Protest!
Tuesday, May 18, 5:30PM
at the Offices of the PR colonial Government (PRFAA)
135 West 50th Street (between 6th and 7th Ave)

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Filed under activism, film and video, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, student movements

Middlesex Occupation Ends, Fight Continues

The occupation is over, the campaign continues

At 8pm on Friday 14 May 2010, Middlesex University management served a High Court injunction to end a twelve-day student occupation of the Mansion building at Trent Park. The occupation began on Tuesday 4 May, when Philosophy students gathered to protest the management’s abrupt decision to close their unique and successful programmes. The occupation quickly succeeded in focusing remarkable levels of national and international attention on the scandalous situation at Middlesex.

The injunction came into effect at 8am on Saturday 15 May. The students finally decided to end their occupation on Saturday afternoon so as to join a rally, outside the Mansion, in support of the campaign to save philosophy at Middlesex. During the rally, Tariq Ali and members of the campaign spoke out forcefully against the management’s decision to close the programmes, the way this decision was taken, and the way its consequences and implications have been handled.

Today the University management had a clear choice. They could have continued a process of negotiation with the students that management initiated, belatedly and reluctantly, after immense international pressure, on Thursday 13 May. They could have discussed concrete steps for the renewal of MA and PhD recruitment. They could have considered, with their enthusiastic students and staff, options for redesigning and relaunching the BA programme in Philosophy.

Or else: they could have made an appeal to the High Court in order to gain the legal power to drive their students out.

True to form, the management has made its decision. Faced with students who were determined to protect their subject and the future of humanities teaching at Middlesex, management decided to treat them like criminals. Rather than talk to them face to face about the renewal of their programmes, management decided to bully them off the campus.

Middlesex management has been bullying its staff and students for many years now. As everyone knows, the power of a bully ends when the people he intimidates band together and confront him. Middlesex philosophy students have taken a first step towards such confrontation: we appeal to other students and staff, at Middlesex and elsewhere, to join us in this struggle.

This occupation is over; the campaign continues.

To protest the management’s decision to expel the students, please send a message to the board of governors and members of the University executive, to the email addresses below; if you are willing for us to post your letter on our website along with other letters of support, please BCC it to savemdxphil@gmail.com.

Please check this website (www.savemdxphil.com) for future events and regular updates.

The Campaign to Save Philosophy at Middlesex
Saturday 15 May 2010
www.savemdxphil.com
savemdxphil@gmail.com

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Email addresses of the Middlesex University management and board of governors:

michael@partridges.org.uk; A.Gajownik@mdx.ac.uk; A.Durant@mdx.ac.uk; thelindens@googlemail.com; andrew.parsons@rlb-law.com; avrobinson1@tiscali.co.uk; l_spence1@sky.com; Bridget.Rulski@guardian.co.uk; colin.hughes@guardian.co.uk; T.Cockerton@mdx.ac.uk; P.A.Johnson@mdx.ac.uk; jritterman@blueyonder.co.uk; dinagray@btinternet.com; j.alleyne@mdx.ac.uk; geoff.lambert2@ntlworld.com; W.Ahmad@mdx.ac.uk; J.Compton-Bishop@mdx.ac.uk; j.mulroy1@btinternet.com; K.A.Bell@mdx.ac.uk; lorna.cocking@btinternet.com; M.House@mdx.ac.uk; M.Keen@mdx.ac.uk; m.driscoll@mdx.ac.uk; PeterCheeseman1@aol.com; Peter.Thomas2@justice.gsi.gov.uk; RS1000@live.mdx.ac.uk; stephen.hand@lr.org; s.knight@mdx.ac.uk; T.Kelly@mdx.ac.uk; T.Butland@mdx.ac.uk; e.esche@mdx.ac.uk

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Filed under activism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, protests, student movements

Open Appeal from the Union of Inhabitants of the Kuzbass

http://vpered.org.ru/index.php?id=544&category=4

Nothing is known about the Union of Inhabitants of the Kuzbass, which has issued this appeal. We do not know whether it reflects the opinion of the hundreds of workers who blocked the railroad in Mezhdurechensk on the evening of May 14, or of one of the groups that has emerged from the protests, or even of one individual. In the bigger scheme of things, this hardly matters. What does matter is that there is not a single false word in this text. Every resident of Mezhdurechensk, every miner, and every person for whom the phrase “worker solidarity” still means something could endorse its demands. We wholly support these demands and express our readiness to carry out actions in support of the Raspadskaya miners during the coming week. We call on all leftist and labor activists to take part in this campaign. \\ Vpered Socialist Movement

***

Open Appeal from the Union of Inhabitants of the Kuzbass to the President and People of Russia and the Residents of the Kuzbass

While our labor makes billions of dollars for people who then spend it to build themselves palaces and villas where later our prime minister celebrates, we die by the hundreds in mines and our people destroy themselves for kopecks.

The latest events in Mezhdurechensk were the last straw for us — we can be patient no longer.

We will not be slaves, beasts of burden that do not have to be taken into account, however much certain people in charge would like to do this. We are tired of slavery and humiliation. Enough!

We appeal to President Medvedev. If, of course, he is really our president, and not someone else.

Our demands are as follows:

1. Release all those who have been arrested in Mezhdurechensk in the coming days and drop all criminal charges against them. Put an end  to the mainstream media’s insults and slander against the people of our town.

2. Raise the wage in all profitable mines in the region to three times above the minimum wage, but no lower than 45,000 rubles [per month, approximately 1200 euros]. It is low wages that lead to safety violations that result in our people dying by the hundreds.

3. End persecution of independent union activists who defend the interests of workers. Those responsible for this persecution should be severely punished.

4. Remove from Mezhdurechensk all the Interior Ministry forces that have been brought in from other towns.

5. Introduce in every town monthly mass meetings of the people with the head of the local administration, at which he would report to the people what useful things he has done for them over the past month and personally answer questions and receive petitions and appeals from citizens.

We will not be satisfied with other proposed solutions to our problems.

We await your answer, Mr. President of Russia. We expect an answer by the morning of Friday, May 21. If our demands are not met, we will then be forced to speak and act in the realm of politics, not of social demands.

Now we appeal to the people of our region.

In order to hear what the high authorities of our country have decided, we will gather on Saturday, May 22, outside the administration buildings in our Kuzbass towns at 4:00 p.m. sharp. We appeal not only to miners and their families to attend these assemblies, but also everyone who is not indifferent to the overall state of affairs in our land. Let the bureaucrats come out and respond to our demands. The only thing that will satisfy us is complete compliance with all demands.

We immediately warn [Interior] Minister Nurgaliev and Governor Tuleyev that we do not advise them to play tricks with us the way they did on the evening of May 14 in Mezhdurechensk. We know that we are often not heard and that instead of talking with us they bring in the OMON.

Therefore:

1) We appeal to all parties and public organizations in our country. We ask for your support, if only in the form of an official announcement that you support our demands and are prepared to work with other parties to help us defend ourselves any way you can. If you do not announce your official position before May 21, this will mean that you are in fact against the people. And we will make this fact known to the entire country. We see that so far a representative of only one party has tried to help us; the rest are silent. We will need informational support and legal assistance — this assistance is already required for our arrested brothers in Mezhdurechensk. We will also need other kinds of support from you, including organizational help.

2) We ask all mass media that are not sell-outs to tell the public about our demands. Send us your representatives on May 22 and publish truthful information about the events here, not the lies that are broadcast on TV.

3) Because we are in an informational blockade — our forums and groups on social websites have been blocked by the FSB, and the ones that remain open are crawling with paid mercenaries, special services employees, and policemen who pass themselves off as ordinary residents and deceive people and the country with their lies — we appeal to all the people of Russia to tell the truth to their friends and on the Internet, to talk about the events here so that the country knows what is happening and the [powers that be] won’t be able to crush us. If they crush us today, tomorrow they will crush you.

4) We appeal to the residents of our region to make lists of everyone who lives in your town — bureaucrats and policemen — who is involved in persecuting our popular self-defense. Make these lists and publish them on the Internet, post them in the streets. Your whole town should know these people by name. The families of people who are prepared to beat women, as happened in Mezhdurechensk, should be ashamed of their fathers, brothers, and sons. If you know someone who has been sent to other towns to beat our people, collect information about them as well. Make your own leaflets with the list of our demands and information about the meeting places on May 22, and post them on the streets and on houses. Tell all your acquaintances and friends about the demonstrations. Do not believe anyone who tells you that our action has been cancelled, even if this information allegedly comes from us. Do not believe any other mendacious slander of the sort that is already flooding all the corrupt media. Collect money to aid our brothers who have been arrested and give it to their relatives. Do not be taken in by the propaganda of mercenary pseudo-activists, people who have been bought off by the authorities. Make your own white armbands and put them on at the assembly on May 22. Organize your own clandestine cells of the Union of Inhabitants of the Kuzbass.

We will meet on the streets of our towns on May 22.

For Freedom and Justice!

***

Report from the Town Square in Mezhdurechensk, May 14 (in Russian)

After the demonstration on May 14, Mezhdurechensk residents blocked the Krasnoyarsk Railroad

Residents of Mezhdurechensk clashed with OMON riot police in the early hours of May 15

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Filed under open letters, manifestos, appeals, protests, Russian society, trade unions