Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Demonstrations spread across EU


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Police break up pro-Palestinian student protest in Berlin

Amsterdam, May 7: German police on Tuesday broke up a protest by several hundred pro-Palestinian activists who had occupied a courtyard at Berlin’s Free University earlier in the day, the latest such action by authorities as protests that have roiled campuses in the United States spread across Europe.
The protesters had put up about 20 tents and formed a human chain around the tents. Most had covered their faces with medical masks and had draped kufiyah scarves around their heads, shouting slogans such as “Viva, viva Palestina”.
Earlier on Tuesday, Dutch police arrested about 125 activists as they broke up a similar pro-Palestinian demonstration camp at the University of Amsterdam.
In Berlin, police called on the students via loudspeakers to leave the campus. Police could also be seen carrying some students away and some scuffles erupted between police officers and protesters.
Police used pepper spray against some of the protesters. The school’s administrators said in a statement that the protesters had rejected any kind of dialogue and they had therefore called in police to clear the campus.
“This form of protest is not geared towards dialogue. An occupation is not acceptable on the FU Berlin campus,” university president Guenter Ziegler said. FU is the abbreviation for Free University. “We are available for academic dialog – but not in this way.” The administrators said some protesters attempted to enter rooms and lecture halls at Free University in order to occupy them. The protest organizers, which say they are made up of students from various Berlin universities and other individuals, had called on other students and professors to take part in the action, the university statement said.
In recent days, students have held protests or set up encampments in Finland, Denmark, Italy, Spain, France and Britain, following earlier protests at US campuses.
Amsterdam police said on the social media platform X that their action was “necessary to restore order” after protests turned violent. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Video from the scene aired by national broadcaster NOS shows police using a mechanical digger to push down barricades and officers with batons and shields moving in, beating some of the protesters and pulling down tents. Protesters had formed barricades from wooden pallets and bicycles, NOS reported. The demonstrators occupied a small island at the university son Monday, calling for a break in academic ties with Israel over the war in Gaza. After clearing the Amsterdam protest by early afternoon Tuesday, police closed off the area by metal fences. Students sat along the banks of a nearby canal. The school said in a statement that police ended the demonstration at its Roeterseiland campus overnight Tuesday “due to public order and safety concerns.” (AP)


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