AFTE condemns the campaign of oppression by a military force against students of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Mansoura University who had been in a protest sit in for the past three months on campus. The attack took place last Wednesday during the Late evening prayers. Student Amr Hamama, one of the protesters, says that while they were praying, an army officer responsible for campus security summoned one of their colleagues, so they went to check the situation. The students found themselves facing a battalion of 36 soldiers already removing the tents of the protesters upon a written order by the colonel Mohamed Moussa the military governor at the Mansoura university to disperse the sit in. The order allegedly came upon complaints by female faculty employees who accused the protesting students of harassing them.
A number of students at the faculty had begun their sit in on campus last April after refusal of the administration to respond to a series of demands related to the educational process at the faculty. The students had submitted their complaints officials upon which the Dean and two Professors verbally and physically aggressed them. The students then filed a complaint with Dr. Amr Ezzat Salama, the Minister of Higher Education, who ordered an investigation that concluded with the referral of the Dean to a disciplinary council. However, the provost, Dr. Ahmed Bayumi Shehab El Din decided to “warn” the Dean only, a matter which was rejected by the students who insisted to continue their protest until the Dean was ousted.
It is noteworthy that this is not the first incidence of such conduct in Egyptian universities. At the beginning of the second academic term, military police forces had attacked the sit in at the Faculty of Mass Media, Cairo university and verbally and physically aggressed the students as well as using electric tazers on them, claiming that they smoked dope and harassed female protesters etc.
AFTE questions achievements as regards freedom of opinion and expression on campus which should have been realized after the revolution, providing a more democratic environment as well as more space for expression, considering that those students were merely chanting against current unjust campus regulations and laws. Their protest was peaceful inside campus demanding their legitimate rights and expressing their opposition to university policies and the Dean who is one of the known figures of the former ruling party. The students based their aspirations on promises made by the previous and current minister of higher education as well as the military council to change university leaderships before the beginning of the new academic year, a matter that remains theoretical until now.
AFTE expresses its objection to all forms of oppression against students’ freedom of expression on campus, stressing the students’ right to exercise their political right, peacefully, including the organization of a peaceful sit in on campus.
AFTE also expresses its objection of all forms of security interference in academic life, whether by state security or the army, considering that such matter violates students rights and the sanctity of the university, raising concerns of attempts to return the country to the policies of the previous regime, which resorted to the security solution in addressing any demand of rights, whether inside or outside universities.