Students defy government order to continue classes
(by a Staff Reporter)
Most of Addis Ababa University students who were called upon to get registered and resume classes that were interrupted due to the recent protests said yesterday that they wouldn't resume classes unless their demands are fully met. The statement released by the Ministry of Education Monday stated that apart from students who are suspected of crimes, others must
get registered on the 23 and 24 of April.
The students said that until the government releases about 2500 students who were rounded up and detained last Wednesday by the police while they had taken refuge in churches, they wouldn't go back to classes. The Federal Police Crime Prevention Department issued a statement Sunday that the police had detained a number of university students outside the compound of the campus in a move to pacify the situation. The students further asked the government to guarantee their safety before resuming their education.
The Reporter learnt that the students were required to fill an application form to start classes. The application form stipulated provisions which confer individual responsibility for the "illegal" acts the students committed from April 10-17. It contains a statement of apology for the loss of life and property to the university and a request to continue classes. There is also another
provision which makes the students responsible for any further "illegal" action they may take. Most of the students contacted by The Reporter said that they couldn't sign the form because it would make the way they presented their demands illegal retroactively. "I am surprised about this," one student said. "The Minister of Education herself had acknowledged before last Monday that our demands were right and the way we put them was legal." Almost all of the students regretted the destruction and havoc which engulfed Addis Ababa last Wednesday following the Ministry of Education's call for police to "enter the campuses and protect those students who are willing to continue classes." But they disclaim responsibility. They say that their demands were presented in a very peaceful way and they didn't instigate violence and disturbance.
The students also argued that signing the form amounts to a voluntarily restriction of liberty. The students assert that the Ministry prepared the form to humiliate them. "This is not conciliatory," one student suggested.
All students including those who might not have participated in the protest were required to sign the form. Lawyers contacted by The Reporter said that the status of this kind of application is very dubious.