Youth in Action, January-February 2015

From the January-February 2015 issue of News & Letters

by Michael Gilbert

Angry youth in Kashmir hit the streets in November, raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans as they carried the bullet-ridden bodies of two youths in a procession to Nowgam Chowk. Protesters demanded punishment for soldiers who had opened fire without provocation on the car the youths were riding in. Police cordoned off the area and didn’t allow people from outside to join the funeral prayers. After the funeral, police and paramilitary forces pushed back angry protesters marching back to town and later fired tear gas shells and pellets, injuring several people.

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Upwards of 10,000 students joined a national protest in London on Nov. 19 opposing increases in tuition and demanding a return to free education. During the demonstration, protesters scrawled paint on the offices of the National Union of Students, which had opposed the protest.

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School officials in California banned the Mendocino High School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams from participating in a holiday tournament because the students planned to wear T-shirts with the last words of Eric Garner, “I Can’t Breathe.” They had worn the shirts in previous games. The boys’ team was allowed to play when all but one player relented, but not enough girls could be convinced to give up their protest, so their team was forced to sit out the tournament.

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In Rabat, youth mobilized on Nov. 18 against privatization of education in Morocco, using the slogan, “We are students, not customers.’’ The students said education would become a commodity to be bought and sold, with the rich benefiting from new private schools.

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Filipino students from both private and state universities gathered in January at the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in Diliman to protest tuition and fee increases. Sarah Jane Elago, National Union of Students of the Philippines president, told students after meeting with CHED officials: “They didn’t listen to us. This means there is no other way but to rely on our own strength to fight against these increases.”

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The Kiss of Love action began with a Facebook page asking the youth of Kerala state in India to participate in a protest against moral policing. On Nov. 2, police in Kochi took 50 peaceful marchers into preventive custody, citing law and order issues. Right-wing religious and political groups also gathered to physically prevent activists from kissing in public. Supporters of the campaign have been posting pictures of themselves kissing on social networking sites. Protests have spread across India.

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