University of Birmingham- stop repressing dissent
In November 2011 a number of students entered into a peaceful occupation of an unused property on the University of Birmingham campus. They were seeking to start a serious discussion on whether the marketisation, lobbied for by the university management, and enacted by the government would be beneficial to staff and students. The university met this show of dissent with unreasonable and unacceptable force. They paid for a special sitting of the High Court in order to force through an injunction banning all ‘occupational style protest’ by ‘persons unknown’ for an entire year. Lawyers judge that the wording of the injunction is so vague that it could be used to criminalize any protest in which participants remain in any location for a period of time. This has led to Birmingham being condemned by human rights groups’ Amnesty International and Liberty who labelled the injunction “aggressive and censorious”. The university have also reacted to the occupation by attempting to punish those that were involved. One student has been singled out and is being taken through a disciplinary procedure that has the power to remove him from the university. We the undersigned call on the University of Birmingham to stop its unacceptable repression of legitimate dissent. The University must immediately drop the injunction, drop the disciplinary and respect the right to protest.