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Student protest in Serbia

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rata
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Nov 27 2006 09:21
Student protest in Serbia

For six days now, students of Belgrade University are blocking the
building of Philosophical faculty

This is just a short overview of student protests in Serbia. Longer
analysis with juicy details will be published later, when all the fuss
passes.

In the may and June education union of Union Confederation
Anarcho-syndicalist Initiative
(http://inicijativa.org/tiki/tiki-index.php?page=SindObrBG) and
direct-democratic solidarity movement Social front
(http://www.socijalni.front.ru/) initiated campaign against scholarships
in Belgrade University "Down with tuition fee" (Dole skolarine!).
(http://protest.zbrka.net/image/tid/13)

First few weeks in October, when the university year have started,
passed in distributing of propaganda materials, collecting of signatures
against the tuition fees and organizing of student assemblies at the
Philosophical faculty with an intent of organizing protest in a more
radical form. (http://protest.zbrka.net/image/tid/24)

On 12th of October protest party which gathered several hundred students
was organized in front of Philosophical faculty.
(http://protest.zbrka.net/image/tid/22)

On 18th of October student organized a welcome for Serbian Prime
Minister, and Education Minister which were gathering in near by
building, wearing slogans such as "I don't want to pay", "Free
education", "Down with tuition fees" etc. the politicians were quite
scared. (http://protest.zbrka.net/image/tid/23)

On 27th of October protest walk was organized, more than more than 500
people attended the protest walk. Apart from tuition fees, new demand
was introduced - equalizing of the graduated student with the "master"
level from Bologne process which is being introduced in Serbia (while
University tried to take more money and organize extra education for
students who wanted to have a "master" diploma)
(http://protest.zbrka.net/image/tid/25 - photos,
http://inicijativa.org/files/video/20061027-protestna_setnja.wmv - video)

On 6th of November, while the meeting of the highest University body
(KONUS) was happening, protest was organized. More than 800 people
attended the protests. "Thiefs!", "Bourgeois gang!" was yelled and the
deans, and they were blocked inside of the building. We didn't let them
go out for some time, and students were yelling at them: "How expensive
your suites are?", "Thiefs!" etc. (http://protest.zbrka.net/image/tid/26)

On 16th of November protest walk was organized, the main streets of
Belgrade were blocked and students yelled in front of the Parliament
building, Government building and Education Ministry building "These are
the nests of the thiefs", "Down with tuition fee"
(http://protest.zbrka.net/image/tid/28)

On 17th of November we have organized travel to the city of Novi Sad
where KONUS was meeting again, some 100 students protested and entered
the meeting where they verbally attacked the deans.
(http://protest.zbrka.net/image/tid/29)

Parallel with this, bureaucratic student organizations, Student Union of
Serbia (SUS), and Union of Students (SSB), when confronted with big
numbers of students attending the protests and actions, tried to take
over the protest and to take the focus from the tuition fees and only
deal with "master" issue. In a longer analysis we'll show how we managed
to fuck them over. Without a doubt, our non-hierarchically structure,
with student assemblies deciding on everything played a key role in that.

On 22nd of November, Protest was organized in front of Philosophical
faculty, which was occupied as a result of the protest. Since,
Philosophical faculty was turned into protest headquarters for the whole
university. Permanently hundreds students are inside, they are eating,
sleeping, discussing, singing, watching movies, and preparing propaganda
materials and of course blocking the lectures.
(http://kontra-punkt.info/index.php?module=My_eGallery&do=showgall&gid=19...)

There are no much photos from last six days, since we are having a loads
of work, but everything is being pictured and filmed and things are
going to be placed online as soon as we finish with the blockade.

Big protest is announced for tomorrow.

This whole thing is, of course, huge in the media. Two liberal
politicians, from different parties, tried to enter faculty building and
were yelled out by the students "We don't want politicians here" and
"thiefs!" was screamed at them. One of them, who came with his
bodyguards, even attacked some students.

It is kind of a mini 1968 - it is a first time that something so radical
(texts that are adopted by the assemblies will eventually be translated)
is happening at Belgrade University since 1968. Of course, since apathy
that is caused by betrayed revolutions and so called transition, all of
this is happening on much smaller scale, for the time being, and maybe
1000 students are actively involved in this - but nobody else,
especially bureaucratic student organizations, is capable of bringing
more people - so this is the biggest thing that can happen in present
situation.

My favorite picture from the protest here: http://protest.zbrka.net/node/275

Official web site of the protest: http://protest.zbrka.net
Photo galleries: http://protest.zbrka.net/image

Salud, Anarquia y Colectivismo

Ratibor Trivunac

WeTheYouth
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Nov 27 2006 15:26

Sounds amazing, i will try and write something small to go into the next catalyst and try and put something bigger together for the next DA.

rata
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Dec 1 2006 10:05

On 28th of November, Philosophical faculty agreed on the platform which was written by the
students and faculty administration, which, among other things, is demanding huge increase
in financing of education sector, changing of the status of ALL self-financing students to status
which will be in big part covered by the State, and a request for a long term plan for the education
sector, with progressive downgrading of the hight of the tuition fees. Later during the day, while
several hundred students gathered for the protest that we assembled, the highest governing body of
Belgrade University, the Senate, supported the document. The blockade of the faculty was taken down,
and the protest is now spreading, and is being directed against the government. We'll see how it
will go. We are hoping for massive anti-state protests.

Some pictures from the occupation - here: http://protest.zbrka.net/image/tid/30

The civilization leap that was made by faculty and university standing behind this document is absolutely great.

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Steven.
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Dec 1 2006 10:16

Good stuff rata, cheers for letting us know about it!

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JDMF
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Dec 1 2006 10:16

good work!

red n black star

rata
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Mar 8 2007 17:32

Some 300 students gathered at the protest in front of Faculty of Architecture today. After blocking of the major Belgrade boulevard for some time, just few hours ago decision was made to do a sleep-over in the faculty building, which can turn into a full-time blockade of the building tomorrow morning. This is just a first step in revival of the protest in this schooling year. As before, the infrastructure of the protest is provided by ASI-IWA.

When giving those informations, here is a short summary of the book about the student protest 2006. The book will be published by ASI research/publishing Center for Libertarian Studies in following weeks, and will have educational and propaganda role in initiating more people in the student protest 2007.

The Struggle for a Free Education

In the autumn of 2006, students at the University of Belgrade launched the first organised counter-offensive against neo-liberal reforms of higher education in Serbia. In this way they continued the same struggle initiated earlier in the same year by their colleagues from France, Greece and other countries across the world.

The neo-liberal restructuring of society and education is not only an unsuccessful strategy of development for a peripheral economy, but it also has a very direct negative impact on both working and academic practice of professors and students. Knowledge and research are being turned into commodities, an investment by the state and private sector, the value of which is determined by the market. Due to the necessity of maintaining macroeconomic stability by a restrictive budget policy, the burden of financing education is increasingly being passed to the individual. Students are forced to take only the courses that they can afford to „purchase“ on the market, they are forced to buy new textbooks for each subject in every successive year of their studies, they even have to pay to apply for an examination applications or to change the examiner. Basically, they are forced to work for a wage in order to afford their studies…

The rejection of the notion of education as a commodity, to be bought and sold on the market, was the central focus of the Student Protest. This was most obvious from the official slogans: „Down with the tuition fees!“ , „We are studying – they are profiting!“ and especially „Blockade the faculty because knowledge is not a commodity!“. The most significant characteristic of the protest was its emphasis on collective and non-hierarchical modes self-organisation. All the main decisions were made at mass meetings open to all protest participants. Anyone could speak and state their opinion. These were the forums in which student demands and plans were made, changed and formalised.

Students demanded a 50% cut in tuition fees, clear and transparent criteria for establishing the amount of tuition fees and accounts in general, and the recognition of the title of (four-year) “graduated student” as equivalent to the new "master" (3+2) level introduced by the Law on Higher Education. After a series of unsuccessful negotiations with state and university representatives, groups of students decided to radicalise the protest and thus reveal the wider social potential of their own struggle. The first step in the radicalisation of the protest was to organise for a blockade of the Belgrade University Rectorate to coincide with the sitting of the highest body uniting all the universities in Serbia (KONUS). The most important episode of the protest, however, was the blockade of the Faculty of Philosophy, which lasted from 22 to 28 November 2006.

The Student Protest lasted three months, from the beginning of October until end of December 2006. It included eight public protest meetings, over 30 student gatherings at the Faculty of Philosophy and approximately 15 gatherings at other faculties across the city. Over 17 000 students of Belgrade University signed petitions in support of protest demands.

The participants of the protest realised that, acting collectively, they could change the conditions in which they work and live. The protest became a more and more articulate critical praxis aimed against the injustices of the system. With the ever deepening divide between the official and the unofficial Serbia as their context, the organisational methods, the direction and the social critique inherent in the Student Protest all indicate the appearance on the scene of a new generation ready to face the social problems of transition Serbia and eager to build a truly democratic alternative to the existing system.

Protest website

WeTheYouth
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Mar 8 2007 17:46

thanks, we could do with some of that over here.

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OliverTwister
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Mar 9 2007 06:09

this looks really great. Its great to see IWA sections doing things like this.

will the book be only in Serbian?

rata
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Mar 9 2007 08:54
Quote:
After blocking of the major Belgrade boulevard for some time, just few hours ago decision was made to do a sleep-over in the faculty building, which can turn into a full-time blockade of the building tomorrow morning.

And it's official: blockade is ON! Right now there are some 400 students inside. Hopefully, blockade of Philosophical faculty is to follow.

OliverTwister wrote:
will the book be only in Serbian?

Yeah, we don't have the money, nor time, to print it bilingually. There will be just this short summary in English in it. But, loads of nice photos =;>

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 9 2007 16:01

news article here, culled from the above - keep us updated rata, and good luck

rata
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Mar 11 2007 12:36

Some photos from the blockade of the faculty, as well as photos from the street blockade. More photos will follow soon on the same place.

http://s157.photobucket.com/albums/t64/ProtestArh07/

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OliverTwister
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Mar 12 2007 03:48

What's the role of ASI in the protests?

rata
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Mar 12 2007 11:04
OliverTwister wrote:
What's the role of ASI in the protests?

Just a short one, because I guess some of the comrades from the education union who are much more involved in it will, when the time allows, write a longer text with reflections on the anarcho-syndicalist involvement in the protest.

Basically ASI, together with some comrades from our front organization, is providing the infrastructure for the protest, from initiating it (by making propaganda in the beginning of October 2006 [and year before that, and the year before] - propaganda whose slogans are now official slogans of the protest and initiating the creation of student assemblies which are leading the protest), placing into practice the decisions of the assemblies which need organized groups of people (designing and spreading of thousands of leaflets, stickers, poster), providing crucial information which managed to keep the protest afloat and out of the hands of student bureaucrats (thanks to the experience that some of us head earlier, and the fact that some of us in the mid-1990's were involved in creation of those student organizations, thus knowing them = controlling them), sending thousands of SMS messages with informations and calls to students who left their contact phones, financing the whole thing (with help of the money collected at the IWA Manchester Congreso), providing contacts with media, ASI members being majority in the protest board and main protest spokespersons, to dictating of the structure of the protest and establishing hegemony of anarchist ideology within the assemblies and occupied universities. And of course, giving the visual identity to the protest =;>

All this resulted in university authorities and media to proclaim that "300 anarcho-syndicalists took over philosophical faculty" (dean of philosophical faculty and big TV stations such as B92TV, end of 2006), and that what is happening at the faculty of the architecture are "acts of anarchism" (management of the university of the architecture, 2007).

Today the guy who is, by the media perceived as the main leader of the protest, treasurer of our union local group, is, together with few other students, meeting the minister of education of Serbia, and the dean of Belgrade University, on their call, to see MO of full filing of student demands, while both of them publicly proclaimed that they agree with all our demands. =:))

I was yesterday in the evening in the assembly at the occupied faculty, some 200 students there, and enjoyed a great mob-rule approach to the guy who pooped up, from the university parliament, and who tried to say that he is "legitimate" representative of the students - he almost got lynched. The blockade is going on!

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JDMF
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Mar 12 2007 11:10

good work comrades!

red n black star

rata
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Mar 14 2007 19:52

At 19:00h tonight occupation of the Philosophical faculty has been declared. This is now second faculty that is being held by students, together with faculty of Architecture. The meeting was held with the minister of education yesterday, but his offer was rejected by the 600 students strong assembly at the Architecture faculty.

New pictures from the blockade of the faculty of Architecture are now on the protest site:

http://protest.zbrka.net/image/tid/32

The university and State (although, the government is not formed for two months now, since the last elections, and most probably no-government situation will be prolonged for at least a month more) authorities are increasingly getting aware of the possibilities of this turning into a real hell for them, so now more political accusations are coming. Dean of the philosophical faculty claimed at todays university meeting, in front of the press which only waited for that so to blow up the story, just few hours before blockade that he is:

"...expecting that the blockade starts at his faculty too, because, organizers of all strikes at the University are not students, but organization named "Anarcho-syndicalist initiative"

http://www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2007&mm=03&dd=14&nav_id=236...
http://www.rts.co.yu/jedna_vest.asp?IDNews=180165

(B92 TV and Serbian national television, Serbian language only)

rata
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Mar 18 2007 19:31

Both blockades were taken on Thursday and Friday. Big part of demands is accepted for architecture, the talks with the authorities of the philosophical faculty are undergoing. Media went crazy for few days about the accusations of the deans and minister that ASI is being behind the protests, the later even threatening with police. The protest is going on. Assemblies on different faculties are being organized. More news later...

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Mar 19 2007 02:27

circle A red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star red n black star circle A

rata
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Mar 19 2007 12:25

Faculty of Fine Arts has just been taken over and blocked by the students. Protest continues!

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 19 2007 12:53

cool

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Bubbles
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Mar 21 2007 09:16

hand out black bloc so you can take sexy occupation pictures of people groucho

rata
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Mar 27 2007 19:41

FFA students are continuing blockade of their faculty, for more than a week now (of course, time can not be compared to one year Mercadona strike, but still.. for Serbia - It's huge). Today 600 students from Philosophical (philosophy, history, sociology, psychology...), Arhitectural, Philological and Faculty of Fine Arts organized a protest rally, by blocking central Belgrade streets for hours.

In the mean time, the university authorities are trying to scare away students from the protest (without much success) by going out to the public with bombastic statements. Such as my favorite (amongs hundreds), which is by a head of whole Belgrade university - moron - interview in the largest Serbian daily newspapers "Vecernje Novosti", titled "Anarchist at the faculties".

They are trying to show that MO of all blockades/protests (Philosophy, Arhitecture, Facult of Fine Arts) is the same (direct democracy etc.), that it is coming from the same source, political organization Anarcho-syndicalist initiative. They also claim to have read our Statutes, which is a blunt lie (it is 83 points long, boring document about our structure). Allso, they are claiming that some of them (deans, heads of university), head read our documents and publications, and that it can be seen, that we are doing everything in acordance with the plan presented in our brochures ("Direct Action" by Emile Pouget and "Anarchosyndicalism in Pourto Real") =;>>

Specially funny box in the interview is titled "Tearing down the hierarchy" and it brings quote from our program saying "On the website of the Anarcho-syndicalist initiative it is stated that this organization is struggling for a society based on individual and collective freedom, equality, solidarity and mutual aid, a society freed of any form of repression, hierarchy or authority of people over other people."

Realy frightening =:))

Hopefully some new photos soon.

Interview pressclip (Serbian)

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TS
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Apr 2 2007 15:40

Hey guys & gals,

keep the updates coming!! I am publishing them on my blog, so that more people around the world realize that this is a global struggle! If possible also provide links to news articles about the protests. Thanks!

Students around the world are fighting neoliberal reforms:
http://fading-hope.blog-city.com/international_student_protests_2007.htm

~GlobalPeace&Solidarity~

TS

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Steven.
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Apr 2 2007 16:18

yeah keep us updated rata, this is interesting stuff.

rata
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Apr 4 2007 21:02

The protest is continuing! The blockade of FFA fell down yesterday (after faculty administration agreed to cut the fees for one third), but today, on Day of students (marked on the day when fascists killed a progressive student on Belgrade university, before WWII) some 800 students from various faculties organized a protest against tuition fees. In the same time the meeting of Belgrade deans was happening. The protest walk was organized from Student Plato (which is placed between University administration building, where the meeting of the deans was happening, and the building of the Philosophical faculty), to Parliament building, to the Government building, and to the building of the Ministry of education and back. "Thieves" and similar slogans were yelled. The deans decided to accept one of the demands of the protest, that all of the students who give number of exams which is needed as a condition of signing into next year, will go to full budget support ie. they will not pay for their schooling. That was only one of the demands, and protest is continuing....

Press clippings with some pictures from today here:

http://www.politika.co.yu/detaljno.php?nid=24485

http://www.danas.co.yu/20070405/hronika3.html#1

http://www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?nav_category=12&dd=4&mm=4&yyyy=2...

More pictures will follow on the Protest official site: http://protest.zbrka.net

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Bubbles
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Apr 4 2007 23:41

you guys are hawt and rawk

red n black star red n black star red n black star

grin grin grin

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TS
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Apr 30 2007 11:22

Hello people,

have there been no new development since the 4th? Apparently a demonstration took place on the 25th.
Are the faculties still occupied? How many people attended the demonstration?
I am grateful for any more infos provided, since I want to publish updates on student protests on my blog:
http://fading-hope.blog-city.com/international_student_protests_2007.htm

Students in Israel and Germany are also on the streets in their thousands protesting against tuition fees and the privatisation of 'public' education.

If some of you come to Germany to protest the G8, then you might be interested to know that we are planning to have a camp for international education activists, so that we can all gather at one camp site and exchange infos and work on building an international student protest network for free and emancipating education.

If you want to stay updated regarding the camp, then leave a comment on my blog with you email add and I'll keep you updated and provide you with more details.

Block G8!!!

~GlobalPeace&Solidarity~