UvA Students were Evicted… then they Reoccupied!

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Since our last blog on the situation in Amsterdam, the situation has escalated.

The injunction at the Bungehuis came into force on the evening of Thursday 19th. The occupiers defied the injunction and stayed to the weekend, covering their 1000 euro a day fine by holding ‘solidarity auctions’ which sold one item from inside the occupation a day, at a price of exactly 1000 euros.

As the weekend came to a close the mayor of Amsterdam intervened and attempted to facilitate negotiations between the university management (the CVB) and the occupiers on Monday 23rd. However, management offered no concessions beyond offering to save a few small language course for one year and hold an interdisciplinary conference. Deadlines passed, the Mayor had to extend negotiations late into the night, but since management refused to enter into a serious discussion negotiations fell through.

At the same time as these negotiations, the university tried to shut down a meeting of outside supporters in the university library. The students denied their right to hold a meeting then ran off and took a building, the PC Hoofthuis, for 4 hours in protest.

At this point on Monday night, then, there were two separate occupations of the UvA.

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On Tuesday morning approximately 80 riot cops arrived to evict the Bungehuis occupation after 12 days. They entered the building and began to remove students, who passively resisted.

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A demonstration of approximately 300 people assembled to support the occupiers. These demonstrators tried to block the first police van being filled with arrested students and attempted to stop it leaving. Outflanking the police, demonstrators then blocked other police vans. Police deployed horses, and started to push the demonstrators up the street away from the occupation.

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There have been confirmed instances of illegal detention and violence. The worst confirmed violence seems to be a protester who has their ankle broken by a police horse charge. At the end of the demonstration 47 occupiers and demonstrators had been arrested.

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The next day, Wednesday 25th, students called a demonstration ‘For Democratic Higher Education’ in response to the eviction. 1000 students assembled, and marched to the Maagdenhuis – the university Senate House, which was famously occupied in 1969. They stormed the building, and have been in occupation since.

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Tomorrow is a national day of action across the Netherlands. Universities across the country are taking part, including Wageningen, Utrecht, Groningen, Nijmegen, Rotterdam, Leiden, and Maastricht. The Academic staff union (FNV) are also discussing work to rule industrial action.

The occupiers were also keen to reiterate their request for solidarity action from the UK student movement.  Anything from photo petitions, open letters signed by academics, SU motions of solidarity, banner drops and solidarity occupations would be a great help to them.

There is also a fantastic analysis written by Dutch academics which addresses some of the underlying issues faced by occupiers.

Increasing student/staff ratios, chronic underfunding, creeping micromanagement of research and teaching, and growing authoritarianism from university management are all conspiring to turn universities into a bureaucratic version of Walmart.”

“For all these reasons, Dutch universities today find themselves at a crossroads. They must perforce choose between further privatization and democracy. The first route leads to a degradation of university education in general, and an evisceration of the humanities in particular. The second route leads to a more egalitarian and more efficient public university.”

Solidarity with the Maagdenhuis occupiers!

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