BM83: Resolution against Student Repression: Schools and HEIs must be a safe space where no act of repression is allowed
On the morning of 25 October, the Faculty of Political Science at ‘La Sapienza’ University in Rome hosted Capezzone and Roscani, respectively a deputy of Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) and president of Gioventù Nazionale for a conference on ‘good capitalism’ organised by Azione Universitaria.
The event immediately led to a peaceful protest by students, collectives, and others outside the conference hall, in the university spaces, which was followed by violent repression by the police: as shown in the video of the event, the authorities beat the students with batons, causing injuries and preventing everyone from entering the faculty.
A few days earlier, on 12 October, at the Bodoni Institute in Parma, a brawl between two students was settled by the police, with a real abuse of power, where a 14-year-old student was knocked down forcibly restrained by one of the officers.
What happened was of unprecedented gravity. The presence of the authorities and their repressive attitude towards the protesters and students is a real abuse of power, as well as, at the ‘La Sapienza’ University, a restriction on the freedom of those who wished to voice their dissent.
The values of the Italian Constitution are clear, freedom of expression and dissent are inviolable rights. We cannot allow HEIs and schools to become unsafe places for students, conveying episodes of violence and repression and limiting the right to protest by authorising the intervention of armed authorities.
HEIs and schools are public and must not be where episodes of repression occur. This must be emphasised and remembered so that these incidents are not normalised.
At the moment, the government has not yet taken a clear position concerning what happened, and indeed, a few days later, decided to propose an ‘anti-rave decree’, which due to its extreme vagueness, also limits the freedom of protest and dissent. The text concerns the ‘invasion of land or buildings, public or private’ and gatherings ‘from which a danger to public order or public safety or public health may arise’, committed by ‘a number of persons exceeding fifty’. For this, you can risk three to six years’ imprisonment and a ten thousand euro fine.
The extreme vagueness of the rule, in contrast to Articles 17 and 21 of the Italian Constitution, opens up the possibility that it could be used against demonstrations of dissent, e.g. the student occupation of the Faculty of Political Science at the Sapienza University, following the police repression episode, could have ended, after the truncheons, with imprisonment and heavy fines for the participants. This instrument can therefore be applied to demonstrations by students, and workers, and occupations for housing or cultural purposes.
Amnesty International has also stated that ‘it risks having a broad, discretionary and arbitrary application to the detriment of the right to peaceful protest, which should be protected and not crushed’.
As European Students’ Union and Unione degli Universitari (UDU) we express our solidarity to the students who were brutally beaten by the police and demand that:
- La Sapienza and the Bodoni Institute immediately take a stand against what happened.
- The Ministry of University and Research and the entire government condemn what happened and ensure that no more repressive episodes occur in HEIs and schools; – The Government and Parliament amend the anti-rave rule when the decree has to pass through the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic.
- Schools and HEIs must be safe spaces where students should learn to live in society through dialogue and culture and not through violence and obedience.