Athens, Greece – College college students in Greece are making ready to struggle an training invoice they are saying will hurt freedom of expression on campus.
The conservative New Democracy authorities needs to create a brand new police power for universities, empowered to arrest and cost these thought of “troublemakers”.
Though campus police wouldn’t bear firearms, they’d have the ability to name in riot police and different reinforcements.
The federal government additionally needs to introduce disciplinary boards with powers to droop or expel college students.
However maybe most controversially, college students might face scrutiny for placing up posters or banners, and for “noise air pollution”.
“We’re afraid of the disciplinary measures within the invoice, which primarily permit vigilantism on campus, and all types of political expression are interpreted as misdemeanours,” stated Hara Mantadaki, a political science scholar at Panteion College of Social and Political Sciences.
She spoke to Al Jazeera throughout a scholar protest towards the measures, the place loud music was being performed and banners had been being painted – routine occasions on Greek campuses.
“Even what we’re doing right here wouldn’t be allowed,” she stated.
Afterward Thursday, college students plan to protest towards the invoice, which shall be debated in parliament subsequent week.
When it got here to energy in 2019, New Democracy abolished campus immunity from police entry, referred to as asylum, relationship to the Eighties.
“Individuals making an attempt to keep away from police forces had been making ready to enter these [university] buildings as a result of police forces didn’t have the proper to enter there,” stated Angelos Syrigos, a former professor of worldwide regulation and now deputy training minister accountable for passing the brand new measures.
“The primary drawback is individuals coming from outdoors, not college college students,” Syrigos informed Al Jazeera. “I strongly consider that 90 p.c of the issue goes to be solved with the introduction of the checking of the individuals coming into the college buildings. Police forces are wanted for the remaining 10 p.c.”
Lots of the measures the federal government proposes – equivalent to higher lighting, surveillance cameras, gates with card readers and on-campus safety guards – are broadly accepted by the tutorial neighborhood.
“Safety will not be what it needs to be … [It] has been scaled again an excellent deal lately for monetary causes,” Evangelos Sapountzakis, assistant rector on the Athens Polytechnic, informed Al Jazeera. “The result’s acts of violence, thefts and so forth. We’d like state cash to spice up safety.”
Final 12 months, intruders stole $200,000 value of kit from the polytechnic. Sapountzakis says these are typical annual losses.
However police have created a nasty impression since they acquired the ability to enterprise on to campuses at will.
“There have been many occasions when riot police had surrounded college students and stored them hostage contained in the campus. There have been events when tear gasoline was used outdoors the constructing and prevented us from coming into,” stated Alexandra Vatopoulou, an accounting scholar on the Athens College of Economics and Enterprise, who opposes the measures.
Final February, college students filmed a police officer with a drawn gun outdoors the AUEB.
“The policeman had come sporting civilian garments,” stated Thanos Golomazos, a third-year administration scholar who was current. “He stood out right here and began terrorising and horrifying individuals. When college students confronted him he pulled out a gun … it was he who precipitated the incident.”
The federal government insists that on-campus violence justifies a everlasting police presence.
Final October, eight masked and gloved assailants entered the AUEB rector’s workplace. They grabbed him by the neck, threatened him, smashed his laptop, vandalised his workplace and posted an image of him on-line with an indication round his neck sporting an anarchist slogan.
Previously, school members have been attacked or bricked into their workplaces.
Syrigos, the deputy training minister, was himself attacked in 2017 for asking three individuals to make use of posters as an alternative of portray slogans on a college wall.
“My college students and I finished certainly one of these individuals and handed him to police forces… it was the primary time that an individual coming from these teams went to courtroom and was tried for these actions,” stated Syrigos. He would really like such motion to be institutional, not private.
But school and directors who supported Syrigos then, now aspect with college students.
“Externally sourced safety that doesn’t reply to college authorities places into doubt the liberty of the tutorial atmosphere,” stated Sapountzakis, the assistant rector.
The federal government has discovered itself politically remoted.
“The one factor the federal government is reaching is to annoy a vexed society and a scholar physique that’s anxious about its future,” stated Hara Kefalidou, shadow training minister for the socialist Kinima Allagis.
An iconic conflict
The immunity of Greek college campuses from police goes again to November 1973, when the army management then ruling Greece used the military and police to smash a scholar protest on the Athens Polytechnic, simply 300 yards (274 metres) away from the AUEB.
Though nobody was damage on campus, an estimated three dozen individuals had been killed on the evening of the operation and throughout the days that adopted.
The incident precipitated a preferred backlash towards the ruling colonels, whose regime collapsed the next 12 months. The scholars who started the unravelling of the colonels’ regime had been idolised because the nation’s conscience, and most of the socialist politicians who got here to energy in 1981 had been drawn from the legendary “Polytechnic technology”.
As soon as put in, they handed a regulation forbidding police entry onto campuses.
The clashes of November 17, 1973, have since grow to be an annual pageant, with college students and anarchists raining Molotov cocktails on police, and organising roadblocks across the Polytechnic.
In November 2019, the rector of the AUEB tried to forestall a scholar meeting that was to plan that 12 months’s anniversary, by shutting down the campus for every week. College students broke the padlocks and held their meeting anyway.
“As we had been about to start, we noticed the riot police who’re usually parked across the again of the constructing, assault the scholars,” stated Golomazos, the administration scholar.
Although designed to forestall a replay of the occasions of 1973, the police intervention grew to become an uncanny re-enactment of it. Police took possession of the campus, but it surely was a Pyrrhic victory.
“Within the days that adopted individuals got here right here to assist us,” stated Golomazos, maybe unaware that the scholars of 1973, too, had obtained public assist via the locked gates of the Polytechnic.
However anarchists and individuals who had been launched from jail used campuses to flee arrest when clashing with police.
In 2011, it was a socialist authorities which partly repealed campus asylum, permitting the rector to ask police on his personal authority. The left-wing Syriza occasion restored it in 2017.
This invoice gives Syriza an opportunity to enhance its approval scores, stated Kefalidou, the socialist politician.
“It’s giving the kiss of life to extremists, particularly the [leftwing] Syriza opposition, to begin a cat and mouse recreation on college campuses. We don’t want this stress.”
Syrigos stands agency, nonetheless. “[Syriza’s] response is towards what Greek society thinks,” he informed Al Jazeera. “So that is going to be an excellent alternative for the federal government to indicate its large distinction from the opposition events on a difficulty that has the assist of the overwhelming majority of Greek society.”