Wednesday, April 25, 2012

AUI,S students support Egyptian protesters

By Salman Ahmed Rasul

                                                     Photo by Arez Hussen- AUI-S Voice
                             AUI-S Students stand in front of the main building to support Egyptian revolution.

A group of AUI-S student, who call themselves Free Youth Movement, gathered peacefully in front of the AUI-S main building on Feb. 6 to support Egyptians protesters against the Egyptian dedicator, Hosni Mubarak.
“We did this in support of the brave young men and women of Egypt,” said Dana Jaf, 21, an International Studies student, from Halabja who was one of the organizers of the demonstration. “We wanted to deliver a message that Iraqi young man and woman have not forgotten them, and the world is with them now. We wanted to emphasis that freedom is something tasty. We love freedom; we support freedom, and we support anyone in the world who supports freedom.”
This activity was a student activity, and it was arranged by the students. “It was a student organized demonstration,” said Elia Boggia, Director of Communications at AUI-S. “The university did not have any official role, but from what I understand the students just wanted to show that AUI-S students and Iraqi students in general support the Egyptian people and Egyptian youth against dictatorship and against suppression of freedom.”
Independent Kurdish media and generally the local media covered the event on a massive scale, such as Hawlati, Awene, lvin Press, Kurdiu, Komalnews web sites and Kurdish News Network.
They mentioned that they were not allowed to enter the campus in order to cover the story. Some of them were claiming that there was external pressure and interference on AUI-S not to let them enter the campus to cover the demonstration.
The local media called Boggia after the occasion to know about the protest and to know the reason behind not letting the journalists enter the campus. Boggia explained that the local media accusations were not fear and were not correct.
“As I explained to local media that called me after the event AUI-S is a private campus,” said Boggia. “AUI-S is not a public university. We do not just let anyone in it for the security of the students and the university.
However, when media wants to visit the campus they usually call me or one of my staff before, and we arrange for a time for them to come. It is not true that there was Assaish Security Forces here or additional security forces than usual. It is absolutely not true. There was normal Peshmarga Soldiers.
They are here every day; there was a normal few policemen who check the checkpoints entering the campus every day. Staff, faculty and the students see these security forces every day. So, there was no extra security, definitely no Assaish presence just because of the demonstration. I can guarantee that.” In a response to the local media, AUI-S Communications Department wrote an announcement officially to clarify and to correct the information, and the local media also published the statement in Kurdish.
The announcement included two points “First, it is true that outside media was not allowed on campus: the students who organized the demonstration did not request for outside media to be present, and therefore no authorization was issued by the Department of Communications to let media inside. That is standard operating procedure and had nothing to do with the demonstration.
AUI-S is a private university and reserves the right to guarantee the security of its students, faculty and campus by making sure that only approved people enter. The decision not to let outside media on campus was made given existing university policy - there was absolutely and categorically no outside pressure of any kind not to let media inside,” stated in the announcement. “Second, it is not true that extra security forces were around the campus for the demonstration: the usual, standard Peshmerga uniformed soldiers and police guards were guarding the university, as they do every day.
There was no Asaish presence, and any report of the contrary is absolutely false.” The announcement also stated that AUI-S is proud of its students, and such an activity proves that the system of education of AUI-S motivates students to think freely and increases their hunger to freedom. Even though a big number of students were with the activity, and they were chanting together “erhal, erhal, erhal,” which means go away, some students thought that it would be better for the Youth Freedom Movement to focus on the internal problems in Iraq.
“Every day, we hear that AUI-S should not involve in politics,” said Muhammad Babakr, 24, an academic students from Qaladze. “The Sunday protest was really about politics. We should bear in mind that it is everyone’s responsibility to support anyone who fights for freedom, but we cannot separate freedom from politics.
In Iraq we have millions of problems that have violated people’s freedom. Why haven’t we done any activities to force politicians to solve these problems? There is the American university in Cairo (AUC), but it has not protested against Mubarak. We should also remember that AUI-S is an independent and private educational institution.
So, anything is being done inside AUI-S will represent the university. The Free Youth Movement is not officially part of AUI-S, and it does not represent the university. So, will AU-S allow other organizations and groups to do this kind of activities inside the university?” Jaf said that the movement is not affiliated with political parties.
“The movement has no relation with any political parties. We want to rescue youth from the parties. There is nothing about freedom. We support freedom everywhere. We participated actively in the last year’s demonstrations against the murder of Sardasht Osman, the young journalist.”

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