10th December 2013 (Human Rights Day)
Embargoed until 12:00pm
LONDON, 12:00pm – Human Rights Students from UCL (University College London) have written an open letter to the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer of the University of London to request they take action to revoke a court order against student protests on University of London grounds.
Last week, the University of London obtained a court order that bans all “occupational protests” on areas of its campus until June 2014. Anyone who breaches the order can be charged with contempt of court.
On 10 December, which is internationally recognised as Human Rights Day, the signatories of the open letter ask that the University of London consider the impact of its decision on the democratic rights of its students (such as the rights to ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘freedom of assembly and association’ that are included in the European Convention on Human Rights), and support their right to peacefully protest.
The letter also suggests that the University should engage in ‘meaningful and respectful dialogue with student-led campaigns, instead of threatening peaceful protestors with legal action’.
Amongst others, the University of London represents University College London, the London School of Economics, the School of Oriental and African Studies and Birkbeck College. All of these institutions offer courses in the study of human rights.
The letter has attracted the support of individuals from other Universities, and will remain open for additional signatures (not restricted to University of London) to be added in solidarity over the coming days.
Aurora Percannella, 24, UCL student: “I signed this letter because universities need to start behaving like democratic educational establishments again, rather than private entities that feel separate from the basic rules governing society”
Laura O’Shea, 22, former University of York student: “University is a place for encouraging debate, not repressing ideas.”
Nick McKenzie, 25, UCL student: “Watching non-violent protestors being kettled into police vans was an unforgivable fall from grace from an institution established to promote free thought and education for all”
Mark Arnold, 25, UCL student: “University buildings are not straightforwardly private property; students are members of the university community and have a right to use the buildings.”
Original court hearing: