Belgrade Philosophical Faculty Occupation – call for international support!
Students of the Philological Faculty of Belgrade occupied their faculty building on Monday, 17th October with demands for lowering of tuition fees. Soon afterwards their colleagues from the Philosophical Faculty joined their struggle and occupied their building on 20th October as well.
The occupations are run through direct, democratically structured student assemblies which are in charge of organizing security, educational and cultural programmes during the blockades. They are also organized on non-violent basis.
The basic and primary demands of the students are:
lowering of the tuition fees on the level of three minimal wages
lowering of the criteria for state supported studying and abolition of ranking
reintroduction and regulation of 'apsolvent' student status/graduate student status
replacement of rector of the University of Belgrade Branko Kovaèeviæ
(to mention just few demands)
Since the beginning of the blockade, pressure from the university and the state has been gradually increasing and the students were forced to defend their faculties not only from the pressure from the University management and Ministry of Education, but also from the secret police and fascist groups protected by the police. Due to this pressure the students of the Philological Faculty ended their occupation on 30th October claiming that they became seriously threatened by physical violence (from fascist groups and the Faculty management) and they do not want to expose their colleagues to these threats.
However, students from the Philosophical Faculty continued occupations, but soon faced violence. At 1st November prof. dr. Milo¹ Antonoviæ from the Department of History, publicly known as a notorious right-winger, started to urge his students to break the occupations what ended in physical attacks on students (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cjNEnu5GWos). Later Antonoviæ claimed that he was attacked by the students occupying the Faculty. The Faculty management reproduced this lie despite the video evidence which proves the opposite. The next incident happened on 3rd November when Faculty management hired private security forces which again attacked the students, hitting one of them in the stomach, twitching the hair off to another, throwing the next one down on the stairs and choking the other one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XvFrrkozf-o). Later that day the same private security tried to close the emergency exits of the Faculty, therefore endangering students' security and lives (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KMaylPjfmP4). Despite the fact that the students tried to stop this attempt, the emergency exits were closed on the next day. Faculty management again, now already by its settled practice, continued with lies and blamed the students for the attack on private security forces. They announced criminal and discipline measures against three students. The day after Faculty management released an announcement claiming that they "no longer guarantee for the safety of persons and property" on the Faculty. At 6th November, at 2 a.m. a group of fascists attacked the students in front of the Faculty with iron lever lightly injuring one of them. Then they turned to stones, throwing them on the students and breaking a glass door of the Faculty building. Besides this they threatened the students with death (http://www.youtube.com/user/ffplenumff#p/u/0/44evwl8ek68).
The attempts of the fascists didn't end there. They have formed an organization called "Student Liberation League" aiming at cleaning the Faculty from "communist" occupation – if needed by physical force. So new attacks can maybe be expected.
All this shows that Belgrade students, joining the international struggle for free and non-commercial education, are facing serious problems, threats and violence, both from official institutions and unofficial fascist groups and they often in this struggle depend on themselves. At the moment their success in the struggle for more equality and social right is uncertain.
Therefore we urge all the student organizations, NGOs, trade unions and syndicates, initiatives and everybody else abroad who identifies with their struggle to send support letters to the Belgrade students to encourage them and let them know that they aren't alone. We also urge you to send protest letters to the Faculty management and condemn its behavior and stop the damaging of University's autonomy.
Here you can contact the students: plenumff.odnosisamedijima[at]gmail.com
Here you can contact the Faculty Dean: dekan[at]f.bg.ac.rs
Students from Belgrade need international support!
One world, one struggle!