Monthly Archives: February 2007

Craig Murray – Ambassador for Student Rights

The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, is now running for rector at Dundee University in the March elections. The outspoken critic of the Uzbek president Islam Karimov became famous for exposing the human rights abuses and torture by the US funded regime which happened “on an industrial scale”, thereby violating orders from the British Diplomatic Service.

Craig Murray, who graduated in 1982 with a Masters in Modern History, says:
“Well, I think, that the rector’s position should not be just a honorary position for a celebrity. It is my old university and I have been president of the student union there and followed its progress. At the moment there are important issues going on in Education. I am very worried about student debts, fees and accommodation.”

Dundee University already made headlines this year because of the intelligence gathering of Tayside’s police special branch on ethnic minorities. Officers attended meetings of the Dundee University Islamic Society and call on schools, businesses, homes and community centres to gather intelligence on individuals, in particular focusing overwhelmingly on the Muslim Community.

Richard Haley, from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) states:
“Tayside SBCCU [special branch] is at present the only unit of its kind in Scotland. We fear that Tayside is being used as a testing ground for a new kind of political policing.”

According to a document released to SACC under the Freedom of Information Act, Dundee is still the only Scottish and even British University in which special branch has shown a particular obvious interest in. Tayside Police justifies its approach to search for political extremism on Dundee campus mainly with the controversial and discredited 2005 Glees/Pope report.

Criag Murray states that he will try to abolish any presence of the Special Branch at Dundee University:
“I think it is appalling. Yeah, I am going to try to persuade the university administration to keep them away. It is complete nonsense.”

This Autumn, the former diplomat presented his book “Murder in Samarkand” to present his side of the controversy after he got “voluntarily” sacked, thereby finishing 20 years of duty at the Foreign Office. Since then he is running a human rights campaign for Uzbekistan and increasingly taking position on the infringement of civil liberties.
As the independent opposition candidate to Jack Straw in Blackburn at the 2005 UK General Election, he also started to criticise the rendition torture flights, Guantanamo Bay, the Iraq War and British foreign policy in general.

Greece – protests against tuition fees turn bloody

tank on 17th of November 1973The conservative government in Greece is attempting to change the constitution to allow tuition fees and make studying harder.
Proposed changes include time-limit on university studies, an effort to restrict the provision of free academic books, the introduction of managerial positions in the Universities and allowing the police to access university grounds.
Because of the students historic resistance to the Military Junta, police is currently prohibited from entering university grounds unless invited.

At 3 am on the 17th of November in 1973, tanks crushed down the barricaded gates of the university with the police opening fire on the students who had occupied the university for several days and broadcasted over a clande17.11.1973, Athens, Greece, student demo against military dictatorshipstine self-made radio calls to the population to overthrow the dictator.
Hundreds of people were injured, almost a thousand arrested and at least 35, if not more, killed.
This year the commemorative march of the Athens Polytechnic student uprising has been brutally attacked by police, leading to three students being hospitalised, the detention of more than 125 people, 7 of those are officially arrested.

At the moment the Greek Constitution states, that education has to be public and free for all. This principle has been under attack for the last months with the introduction of private schools and colleges. Nearly all Universities have been occupied by protesting students.
The conflict of opinion has not been peaceful as in the latest round of occupations in November when neo-nazis attacked the occupants.
The student protests are supported by preliminary-school teachers who have maintained a militant strike for six weeks at the start of the school year.
In October one thousand senior high schools were occupied by their pupils, because of funding-cuts and more restrictive access.

Action day for Education in Germany

protests in Frankfurt/MainStudents in over 25 universities in Germany protested against the introduction of tuition fees during the “Action Day for Education” on 30th of November. Demonstrations and street parties were held in Berlin, Bochum, Bonn, Cologne, Darmstadt, Fulda, Hamburg, Freiburg and Oldenburg.
In Frankfurt the job centre was stormed by about a thousand students who put up banners and held speeches on its roof and proclaimed solidarity with the unemployed workers movement.
The student unions call for a boycott of tuition fees and mass lawsuits by students against the state, as the constitution was modified in 2005 to allow tuition fees.
The students argue that the introduction of tuition fees would not necessarily lead to a rise of quality in education, nor benefit the universities directly, and would lead to more social inequality and restrict access to universities. There are worries that fees would mainly stop students with children or from working class background from studying, and also that it would lead to accumulation of high amounts of debts and force more students to work part-time whilst neglecting their studies.
student demo Bonn
In the last years, there have been raids by police against protesters in Bielefield. In Cologne the rector tried to expel opponents. Students also stormed the regional parliament in Erfurt and Duesseldorf. The administration offices of Frankfurt and Freiburg University were occupied. Students also interrupted speeches and talks by politicians, such as in Flensburg.
In Dortmund, Nuremberg, Essen, Eichstaett, Kiel, Flensburg and Goettingen the students erected protest camps with tents on campus  in the case of Giessen for over 143 days.
There are no tuition fees for example in Cuba, Venezuela, Sweden, Finland, Danemark, Poland.
Australia has reintroduced tuition fees in 1989, Britain in 1998, Austria in 2001.
The highest tuition fees are demanded in the States, with up to $30 000 dollars a year.