ESU shocked by repression in Quebec

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) expresses its solidarity and support for Quebecois students in their fight for a society where the fundamental right to freedom of assembly is respected and where education for all is a guiding principle.

As a response to three-month long demonstrations against the 80% rise in tuition fees, the National Assembly of Quebec passed a law on Friday 18th of May 2012 which sets strict regulations on demonstrations of over 50 people. This law potentially also imposes high fines for student leaders and student unions that do not encourage students to comply with the law.

The student demonstrations reveal a severe lack of dialogue between the different stakeholders in higher education as the students’ voice has not been listened to, but repressed instead. Allan Päll, ESU Chairperson said that “we are deeply concerned as these solutions put forward by the National Assembly will end up causing more harm to the overall situation and especially in long term. It is a shame the lawmakers decided to play the ball and put efforts into repressing civil society instead of taking the opportunity to be inclusive and seek for a sustainable solution for the actual policy problem.”

ESU expresses its full support to Fédération étudiante collégiale and the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec whom will be in court next week to try and ward off the bill. ESU, the umbrella organisation for 47 national unions, adopted a Statement to demonstrate support to the Quebecios students in their battle against the rising of tuition fees at its Board Meeting in Bucharest on 23 April. ESU’s members representing French students and French speaking students in Europe (FEF, UNEF, FAGE)* have been showing their support throughout the months and are currently protesting in France and in Belgium to influence the situation.

Background

On May 18th 2012, the Québec legislature signed a special “emergency law” (Bill 78) to “restore order” in the province following three months of student protests in a strike against the government’s proposed 80% increase in the cost of tuition. The law states that student associations who don’t encourage their members to comply with the law could face punishment.

( *Fédération Des Etudiants Francophones (FEF, BE),Union Nationale des Etudiants de France (UNEF, FR), Fédération des Associations Générales D'Etudiants (FAGE, FR) )