Join the protests: Auckland Solidarity Protest for expelled anti-war Victoria Uni students Wednesday, May 27, 2009 12:00pm – 1:00pm Assemble in main quad, Auckland University
Wellington 12 -1pm on Friday, May 29, at Kelburn Parade (by Victoria University)
Students Alastair Reith, Joel Cosgrove and Ian Anderson have been expelled from Victoria University for burning the New Zealand flag. They did this in protest against New Zealand imperialism and New Zealand’s involvement in such imperialist ventures as Iraq, East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, the occupation of Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The students are not allowed to reenrol until next trimester, and are banned from sitting their exams. As a result they will fail all their courses, and as they are not being issued a refund they are essentially receiving a fine of several thousand dollars each.
The University is claiming that they were expelled for “health and safety” reasons. However this is clearly not the case. The flag was burned outside, in the rain, on the soaking wet smoker’s smokers’ deck outside the Mount Street Bar, and despite the false claims of the University the students had a bottle of water with them with which to put the fire out, and extinguished it themselves with water taken from inside the bar.
And if this was really about “health and safety”, why is Ian Anderson being expelled for filming the event? He had no direct role in burning the flag, and his only involvement was recording on camera what took place. Another student and Workers Party member, Marika Pratley, has been issued an official warning for simply being present on the deck while the flag was burned!
You don’t have to agree one hundred percent with the expelled student’s students’ politics, or with the act of burning the flag. But whatever way you look at it, this is an outrageous abuse of power by the University which sets a worrying precedent. This is an issue of freedom of speech, freedom of expression and the right to engage in political activity without fear of reprisal. If you support basic civil liberties and democratic rights, you should do everything you can to oppose the University’s decision and support Alastair, Joel and Ian being reinstated.
This coming Friday (the 29th), midday on Kelburn Parade, there is a protest being held against the expulsion of the students. If you think this is an over the top punitive action and support the right of student’s students’ to protest and take part in political activism in a free, open and democratic environment, you should come along and make your voice heard. Don’t let the University silence free speech!
Victoria University has disenrolled three students for an anti-war protest around Anzac day, and issued a warning to another student. Deborah Willis, Dean of the Humanities faculty, has disenrolled Joel Cosgrove and Alastair Reith, claiming a flag burning protest they held was serious misconduct. Ian Anderson who filmed the protest outside the Mount Street bar on campus has also been disenrolled, and Marika Pratley who was present, was issued a warning. The university has also banned all four from the Mount Street bar. The protest on 6 May was to highlight New Zealand involvement in wars of aggression from the Boer War, the World Wars, Vietnam to Afghanistan.
All four students are members of the Workers Party.
“The 20 second flag burning, which took place outside, in the rain, posed no danger to anyone” said Workers Party secretary Daphna Whitmore. “Universities are supposed to be the critical conscience of society. The actions of the University are political harassment and an attack on political freedom of expression on campus” she said.
The students are rejecting the university’s draconian actions against them and say they will continue to attend classes. They are calling on staff and other students to support their right to freedom of expression. END
Contact Daphna Whitmore 029 4949865 Joel Cosgrove 027 6009282
On the 12th of May, the Workers Party expelled current VUWSA president Jasmine Freemantle for flagrant violations of core working class, socialist and party principles. Since then her response has been to attempt to cover up the fact that she was expelled for consistently attempting to ride roughshod over VUWSA employees and for refusing to argue for basic socialist and Workers Party principles in VUWSA.
People who know the Workers Party will have little difficulty in recognising that subsequent comments by her bear little connection to reality.
Victoria university members of the Workers Party are facing charges of serious misconduct after burning the New Zealand flag. This leaflet explains the political background to the act.
Why burn the New Zealand flag?
The New Zealand flag is a symbol of imperialism. This is most obvious in its design, a tribute to the British Empire. This design was adopted after the Second Boer War, which devastated South Africa but resulted in a surge of Kiwi patriotism.
A simple re-design, while reflecting our emergence from the shadow of the British Empire, would not change the imperialist nature of the flag. It’s a tool of the ruling class, inseparably linked with militarism. From the Boer War through WWI and II, right through to armed involvement in Vietnam and Afghanistan, the flag has marked New Zealand’s presence. Flags mark military conquest, the subjugation of nations.
Flags and borders divide the working majority. ANZAC soldiers had more in common with their Turkish counterparts than with the bureaucrats who sent them to Gallipoli. The working majority has interests in common worldwide, including an end to imperial war. Ruling class nationalism is a barrier to recognising this.
What purpose does ANZAC day serve? Read the rest of this entry »
A piece by Mike Ely reprinted from Kasama.
Jaroslav writes a critique of the revolutionaries in Nepal. He rejects the idea that they may be working to show large numbers of people, through living political practice, that there is a need for a new revolution:
“I am not saying [the people] had all the education they need for seizure of power, I’m saying that what UCPN(M) is doing now is not contributing to any further education. Either people get it & it is repetition, or they don’t & it’s not helping.
This is a remarkable claim. I want to use this remark as a jumping off point — for some comments that are not aimed at anyone personally. They are aimed at a mix of dogmatism and deep cynicism has (unfortunately) paralyzed too many people who sincerely want radical change.