Defend the right to protest – Drop the charges – Full independent investigation into SOAS arrests now!

This letter has been initiated by activists of the Defend the Right to Protest Campaign To sign the letter please use the e-petition or e-mail

On late Monday afternoon, a hundred students and staff from SOAS and theUniversityofLondonassembled to protest against Universities Minister David Willetts’ visit to the college.

In order to avoid a repetition of what happened to A.C. Grayling’s lecture at Foyles bookstore, or Richard Dawkins at the Institute of Education SOAS management had not listed the event on its website. In addition, SOAS management flouted the fact that both the Students’ Union and UCU at SOAS have voted motions of no confidence in David Willetts. Instead they invited the police onto college grounds to guard the door to the Brunei Gallery.

Asserting their democratic right to protest, students and staff entered the building and occupied the foyer of the lecture hall in which Willetts was speaking. Once the occupation had ended the police arrested a student, and went over to arrest three more. Police were using batons, they erected metal barriers outside the Brunei Gallery and one plain clothes police officer was spotted giving hand signals to the police. The police’s actions were provocative, violent and turned a good-natured protest into a scene of mayhem.

The events of yesterday are indeed worrying as they show once again the brutal methods the police will employ in order to quell dissent on the streets and on our campuses. It seems that now, every time the students’ and trade union movement calls a protest, the police abuse their powers to intimidate and attack people taking part.

On June 30, up to one million public sector workers will be striking in defence of their pensions and livelihoods. Yesterday’s attacks on our right to protest resemble the arrests before the Royal Wedding and in the run-up to March 26.

We pledge to defend and assert our right to protest, and demand

– SOAS management instigate a full independent investigation with the involvement of student and staff from the college into what happened at the demonstration

– the police drop all charges against the arrested protesters

– An end to political policing

Mark Bergfeld, NUS NEC & Education Activist Network

Graham Dyer, SOAS UCU President

Jelena Timotejevic, UCU and Defend the Right to Protest

Hannah Dee, Chair of Defend the Right to Protest

Clare Solomon, ULU President

Sean Rillo Raczka, ULU Vice-President-elect

Charlotte Gerarda, LSE SU General Secretary

Milaad Rajai, Co-President for Welfare and Education, SOAS Students’ Union

Ruby Hirsch, NUS NEC (FE place)

Sandy Nicoll,  SOAS UNISON Branch Sec

Zita Holbourne, BARAC and PCS NEC

Lois Clifton, LSE SU Ethics and Environment Officer

Kanja Sesay, NUS Black Students’ Officer

Mike Berlin, Birkbeck UCU joint president

Cameron Tait, Sussex Students Union President

Lukas Slothus, LSE SU Community and Welfare Officer-elect

Emma Kerry, UMSU Women’s Officer

Michael Chessum, NUS NEC & National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

Jacqui Freeman, SOAS UNISON (pc)

Nadje Al-Ali, SOAS UCU exec

Dzidra Stipnieks, SOAS UCU exec

Johnny Darlington, SOAS UCU exec

Andrew Kennedy, SOAS UCU exec

Jim Wolfreys, UCU Kings College

Des Freeman, UCU Goldmsiths College

Naomi Bain, Birkbeck UNISON

Alberto Toscano, Goldsmiths UCU

Ron Mendel, Northampton UCU

Charlie Kimber, National Secretary SWP

Derek Wall, former Green Party Principal Speaker

Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War

Ronan McNern, Queer Resistance & Trafalgar Sq. Anti-Cuts Occupation

Ciara Doyle, GreenwichUniversity UCU

Amy Wilkes, UniversityofWestminsterSU

Alex Peters-Day, LSE General Secretary-elect

Robyn Minogue, SU ARTS Education Officer

Louis Hartnoll, SU ARTS President

Richard Wilsher, SU ARTS Activities

Shanti Ulfsbjorninn, SOAS Teaching fellow, Dept of Linguistics

Camilla Power, UCU


About educationactivistnetwork
The education activist network provides national coordination for trade unionists, academics, university workers and student campaigners fighting to defend jobs and education in the UK.

2 Responses to Defend the right to protest – Drop the charges – Full independent investigation into SOAS arrests now!

  1. Simona Vittorini says:


  2. ann b says:

    The importance of protesting agains freedom to protest is vital, In India, any one now protesting are being labelled as terrorists, and treated as such , we need to be aweare of this sinister devolopement and combat it , we have the fundimental right to protest .

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