Tag Archives: Priama Dija (Direct Action)

Riot Police Try to Stop Student Counter Forum in Kyiv

edu-factory.org

European Education Ministers meet in Kyiv: Counter Forum Prohibited + Protesters detained

Friday, September 23, 2011

Education ministers from across Europe met in Kyiv (Ukraine) for the so-called Forum of European Education Ministers hosted by the Ukrainian government today. Since people in the Ukraine struggle against the increasing commercialisation of education just like everyone else around the world, some students decided that this meeting could not just take place silently.

More than 100 students gathered to voice their opposition to the dominant education policies in the Ukraine and across Europe. The protesters were faced with a massive police presence: even riot police was to keep the students from voicing their opposition.

The police was aggressive and at some stage attacked protesters. Four activists, three of whom are members of Direct Action (a network of independent student trade unions), were detained. The police “offered” to release them in exchange for everyone to stop protesting. But since they saw that this “offer” had no effect, the activists were fortunately released a few minutes later.

The Direct Action network planned to hold a students’ counter-forum (“The Other Side of Education”) during these days, but it was prohibited by a court ruling. Obviously this decision is in violation of the freedom of assembly. According to the law, this freedom can only be restricted if there is a direct threat to national security or public order.

Since “The Other Side of Education” was prohibited, students decided not to set up an encampment as planned, but to march through the city center of Kyiv instead.

The current education reforms in the Ukraine (like in most other parts of the world) are aimed at cutting public spending on education and further commercialization of the education system as a whole. This would make it harder for the financially poorer parts of society to attain an university degree.

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In this report from the scene of events on the Ukrainian channel STV, a police spokesman labels the protesting students common “football hooligans.”

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Photo by zip-cn2. See their complete photo reportage of the counter forum here.

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The Other Side of Education (Kyiv)

http://forum.direct-action.org.ua/

The Other Side of Education
Student Counter-Forum
September 22-23, 2011
Kyiv, Ukraine

On September 22, heads of European departments of education are coming to Kyiv, Ukraine, to specify their own goals and priorities for educational and cultural field during the next few decades. We all know what can be the outcome of these forums—commercialisation, budget cuts, strict centralisation—these things happen all over Europe, and this is their side of education.

No wonder the heads of educational departments come to Kyiv intending to decide the fate of education together. The probblems of Ukrainian students are similar to those of the students in most European and post-Soviet countries—governmental efforts to make education self-sufficient, putting obstacles in the way of the needy to get educated; cuts in financing of liberal arts, binding researches to commercial profit—all these aspects follow the neoliberal reforms, i.e. governmental cuts in social sectors.

We can see the other side of modern education, and it is far less attractive than the pretty picture the officials are trying to present us. Yet we are the other force, the only force that can change the situation.

As opposed to the official forum of the heads of departments students plan to hold an alternative forum in Kyiv, in order to draw attention to the other side of the problems discussed by the officials. If we don’t interfere, they will decide that the aim of education must be to produce narrow professionals for commercially profitable industrial areas, and the priorities in education must be focused on business!

We also know what hypocrites they are when they talk of fighting against xenophobia—because it is they who create the conditions for xenophobia: it is caused by the social and economic conditions that people experience. Educational politics makes education unavailable for the majority, which deepens social inequality and results in xenophobia—the psychological need of the oppressed to find some alien who sticks out and blame him for all evil. In contrast to liberal “fighting” against xenophobia, we act in real international solidarity, which is proved by our alternative forum.

On September 22-23, students from different countries are coming to hold an alternative forum. The forum will consist of a number of events, connected with common ideas of opposition to commercialization of education and prevention of xenophobia.

We will take advantage of the fact that the objects of our criticism will all be in Kyiv to tell them what we think education and culture must be like in the coming decades. We will take the opportunity to occupy the information space to tell European community what modern education is really like nowadays, to show the real reasons of xenophobia, and draw the way in which education can be different, the way it can promote equality and freedom of personality.

We can see the dark side of education, and we will bring the officials to daylight! Come to our side!

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Solidarity with Priama Dija (Kyiv)

[Adapted from the solidarity appeal originally published at lib.com]

Dear Comrades!

We are an independent student union, Priama Dija (“Direct Action”) and we ask for your support.

The case is that for over the last six months, the union has been under unprecedented pressure. Everything started with our series of successful actions (together with other youth organizations) against the establishment of fees for previously free services in the universities, against cutting funds for scholars and against plans to suspend scholarships for students who received even a single grade of “3” (C). Ever since then, the intelligence services, together with the administration of the National Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev, have been carrying out a campaign of pressure against the union’s activists. All available measures are used against them, including intimidation and repression.

During this period:

1) pressure has been used against activists by threatening to sack their parents from work;
2) activists were expelled from the university;
3) intimidation and face-to-face “talks” have been held with anyone who somehow helped us;
4) the intelligence services have engaged in a deterrence campaign against us.

It is worth mentioning that a number of administrators in private conversations made it absolutely clear that they were being “pressured from above.” Some officials have directly called it a “war.” There are those, however, who won’t stop at anything just to keep their positions. Thus, the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Mr. A.E. Konverskii, stated outright  that he would “crush anyone who would challenge his career into the pavement.” Soon afterwards, even such an insignificant project as the film club in the faculty was closed for no particular reason and without explanation.

The administration also distinguished itself by instructing security guards to prohibit activists from entering the Red (main) corpus of the university, regardless of the legitimate right of free entry for union members.

In general, an atmosphere of total control has been established in “the best university in the country.” Any signs of dissatisfaction are rooted out immediately. Thus the very flickering of a protest against a rise in dormitory fees was brutally suppressed, and the students who initiated this campaign were expelled.

The present state of affairs is connected to an appalling fact. The Kiev National University is virtually run by Vice-Rector V.A. Bugrov, who has also been, according to our information, an SBU officer since 1989. (The SBU, the Ukrainian Security Service, was previously known as the KGB.)

“Vladimir Bugrov: Have a ‘Prophylactic Talk’ with Your Wife!”

We should also mention that the former chief of the SBU, Volodymyr Nalyvaichenko, swore that he had recalled all the agents from institutions of higher education during the “de-KGBization” campaign.

The facts enumerated above constitue a disgraceful precedent for both the University and Ukraine as a whole. The University should stand for the free development of the individual and not for the totalitarian production of security service agents.

We call for your solidarity!

We ask you to send letters of protest to the Ukraine minister of education, the Ukraine parliament’s human rights ombudsman, and the administration of Kyiv University. You may use the following sample letter:

We ask you to intervene in the situation with the student union Priama Dija (“Direct Action”). According to the information we have received, for over six months now pressure has being used against the union by the administration of the Kyiv National University and the SBU (Ukraine Security Service).

Regardless of the official status of the union, representatives of the SBU and the University have taken repressive actions against activists and intimidated all those who are somehow connected to the union. These actions violate the Ukraine  law “On Unions, Their Rights and Guarantees for Activity.” They also violate the Criminal Code of Ukraine (Article 170).

We appeal to you to take action in this situation.

Please mail, fax or telephone your protests to the following officials:

Minister Dmytro Volodymyrovych Tabachnyk
Ukraine Ministry of Education and Science
10, Prospekt Pobedy
01135 Kyiv, Ukraine
Telephone: +380 (44) 486-24-42
E-mail: ministry@mon.gov.ua
Fax: +380 (44) 236-10-49

Rector Leonid Vasiliovich Hubersky
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
64, Volodymyrs’ka St.
01601 Kyiv, Ukraine
E-mail: stationery@univ.kiev.ua
Fax: +380 (44) 239-33-88

Nina Ivanivna Karpachova
Ukraine Parliament Ombudsman for Human Rights
21/8, Instytutska St.
01008 Kyiv, Ukraine
Telephone: +380 (44) 253-22-03
E-mail: omb@ombudsman.gov.ua

For more information or to tell us about your solidarity actions (including letters), write to: priamadija@gmail.com

Kyiv: Priama Dija Pickets SBU Headquarters

On April 21, the Priama Dija student union picketed the headquarters of the Ukraine Security Service (SBU). Around fifty union activists demanded an end to repressions against students, their parents, and their comrades.

The young people submitted “case files” with information about themselves. They announced that they had decided to make the work of SBU agents easier by submitting a detailed dossier on each activist.

Union activists claim that the SBU agents have engaged in a campaign of coercion against Priama Dija, its members, their parents, and mere sympathizers for over six months. This campaign has been especially intense in the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, where the administration has joined with SBU agents in a campaign against the student union, openly calling it a “war.”

Union activists say that the most underhanded methods have been employed against them. Aside from threatening and expelling students themselves, the university administration has practically taken parents hostage by promising to cause them “problems” and threatening that they will be fired from their jobs.

The protesters demanded an end to all repressions against union activists, their families, and friends, and an internal investigation into the collaboration of SBU agents with the administration of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in its repression of the student union.

Actions in support of Priama Dija also took place in Germany, Poland, Portugal, Russia, and a number of other Ukrainian cities. Earlier, the International Workers Association, trade union organizations in Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Germany, and Venezuela, the International Youth Human Rights Movement, Ukrainian civil rights activists, and a number of Ukrainian student and youth organizations expressed their support for Priama Dija.

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On April 22, members of the Committee for Academic Solidarity and the Street University held a series of solo pickets in support of Priama Dija outside the Ukrainian Consulate in Saint Petersburg.

On April 21, two solidarity rallies took place outside the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow. These were organized, respectively, by Autonomous Action, with support from the Vpered Socialist Movement, Left Front, and the All-Russian Confederation of Labor (VKT); and by the Confederation of Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalists (KRAS).

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