14.10.2009
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Democracy conference marks International Students’ Day

70 years after Nazis stormed the University of Prague and executed nine student leaders, students are still facing various forms of oppression around the world. On November 16-18, ESU and OBESSU will mark the International Students’ Day with a conference on students’ role in democracy in the past and today.

The 17th of November is the International Students’ Day, an international observance of student activism.  ESU and the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) will organise an a conference to commemorate the students who were victims of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.

The event, which takes place at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, aims at discussing the role of students’ unions nowadays in the preservation and promotion of democracy. On the event website www.17november.eu you can also find a video celebrating the event and remembering the students who fell while defending their rights.

The date commemorates the anniversary of the 1939 Nazi assault at the University of Prague after students’ demonstrations against the killing of Jan Opletal and the occupation of Czechoslovakia. During the assault, nine student leaders were executed and over 1200 students were sent to concentration camps. Moreover, all Czech universities and colleges were closed. The day was first marked in 1941 in London by the International Students’ Council.

The 17th of November nowadays commemorates also other dramatic events, such as the student revolt in Greece the 17th of November 1973 and the students’ demonstration held once again in Prague, but on the 17th of November 1989, against another authoritarian regime.  Students have always been in the forefront against the dictatorships, striving for the preservation of democracy and promoting active citizenship, human rights and participation.

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