terça-feira, dezembro 01, 2009

Students protests in Serbia are on a high tide

Wave of student struggle is sweeping over the streets of Serbian capital, Belgrade. Three marches of some 1,500 students held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday have marked a new phase in student organising. These protests were the most massive and political ones in the past 10 years. It was also the first time for us to block two main bridges that connect two halves of city – we blocked Branko’s bridge on Wednesday and Friday and Gazela on Friday, after protesting in front of an international conference on Bologna reforms. Our last two protests also had one important person in the front row – Joe the dredger, who is a symbol of the 5th of October 2000 revolution, when we toppled the hated president Milosevic.

The six demands we’ve had by now all deal with specific problems that came out of neoliberal and bologna reforms of education. Protests were started by the official student representatives, led by the president of the Student parliament of University in Belgrade, who is also a member of the ruling party. Never the less, our student group Another University is Possible, that stands against the bologna reforms and for free education for all, made some crucial interventions in coalition with other student representatives who want to see this protest win – pushing towards generalising our demands and connecting with our collegues internationally, as well as with workers. We’ve printed hundreds of bulletins, together with a letter of support from Austria, which was then repeatedly cited in the biggest Serbian daily.

Yesterday, we were supposed to have another meeting with the government, but instead the president of the Student parliament got a statement in which the government ‘promisses’ to fulfill five out of six demands, without saying when or how they will do that. As most of us expected, he decided to end the protest and called his collegues to go back home. The rest of us realized that we were scammed, so we immediately organised a plenum of a few hundred students where we decided to demand that those representatives who failed us step down, but also to radicalise our demands and tactics – we are now talking about organising democratically, occupying our Universities and demanding free education for all.

We already won the support of three trade unions, one inter-striking cometee and union of taxi and truck drivers. Next Monday we will be protesting with the support of some 200-300 taxi veachles, and on Tuesday we should be accompanied by other workers who supported us.

This is presenting a huge problem for our government who only just managed to get a huge loan from Russia and prevent the worker struggls from exploding. This is why any kind of international support is crucial to us at the moment. We must connect our struggle with the current struggles worldwide. The next week will be crucial.

One world – one struggle!

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