Montreal, da un mese gli studenti in piazza contro le tasse scolastiche. E ora sfidano i divieti polizieschi

venerdì, 25 Maggio, 2012

Continua da un mese la protesta degli studenti del Canada contro l’aumento delle tasse universitarie. Epicentro Montreal. E ora la nuova sfida contro i divieti polizieschi. Dal Guardian del 25.5.12:


World news

Quebec student protests

Montreal’s student protesters defy restrictions as demonstrations grow

Emergency law tried to limit size and scope of tuition-hike protests, but police allow demonstration to go on as planned

Demonstrators in Montreal have continued to defy an emergency law passed by the provincial government in Quebec to restrict protests by students against planned tuition fee hikes.

As has become traditional, groups of protesters banged pots and pans, marching around the city for several hours.

But there was no repeat of the mass arrests that characterised the protests earlier in the week. On Wednesday, more than 500 Montrealers were arrested – more than during the entire October 1970 crisis when martial law was declared in the city in response to actions by Quebec nationalists.

The total number of those arrested in the current protests has now exceeded 2,500, and the judicial process is already showing signs that it is struggling to cope.

As protesters snaked through the city’s neighbourhoods on Thursday, residents and customers in restaurants showed their support by banging pots as they passed by.

The protest, which began at Place Emilie Gamelin, was declared illegal before it began, because organizers had not provided police with an itinerary, as required by a controversial new emergency law. But Montreal police said in a message posted on Twitter that protesters would be allowed to march as long as they remained peaceful. Four people were arrested.

Helicopters and riot police are an increasingly common sight on the streets of Montreal as a province-wide student strike passed the 100-day mark, but popular support only seems to be growing as the government attempts to clamp down on the strike.

Small red squares, the symbol of the strike historically worn by Montreal students supporting free tuition, are everywhere in the city – cloth pinned to peope’s lapels and daubed onto signs and walls.

Families and older residents are increasingly common sights at protests as well, demonstrating against Bill 78, which places restrictions on protests of more than 50 people. The bill imposes fines of $125,000 a day on student unions that defy its provisions, and student leaders shown to support unplanned protests can be fined up to a maximum of $5,000.

Michelle Hartman, an associate professor at McGill University who attended Thursday night’s protest with her young son asleep in his stroller, said she had seen the variety of protesters expand since the strike began.

“There have been people all along who aren’t just students … and I think all along there have been supporters, but definitely since the Bill 78 there have been more and more people just from all different places coming out.”

Hartman also noted support from English-speaking students as well. Since the student strike began on 13 February in Montreal, French-speaking universities and colleges have dominated the movement, having led the major strikes and political mobilizations in the 1990s and 2000s.

“What I find really inspiring about the movement is that I’ve noticed a lot of the students that I know from McGill, English-speaking students, international students from all over the states and other places participating along with their French-speaking and organizing with [them] more than in the past,” Hartmann said.

Henri Fernand, 65, who took part in the protest in his wheelchair, told the Montreal Gazette: “The youth is our future and I’m proud of them. I’m here in solidarity with the students.”

The protests have resulted in a backlash against the Quebec prime minister, Jean Charest, who has refused to back down over the tuition fee increase, and the new law.

Students have been boycotting classes over the past three months, arguing that the increases would lead to an increased dropout rate and more debt.

In response to the protests, the provincial government rushed through Bill 78 on 18 May. As well as the restrictions on protests, it suspends the current academic term and provides for when and how classes are to resume.

Some student organisers said that the introduction of the bill, far from cowing the demonstrations, had actually brought more support for their cause.

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