Statement concerning the student protests

19 May 2024

Statement of the CC of the NCPN on the student protests in solidarity with Palestine and the police violence

Since Monday 6 May, a wave of protests has engulfed Dutch educational institutions in solidarity with Palestine and against the cooperation of Dutch educational institutions with Israel. The NCPN supports the demands of the students and staff, and condemns the brutal police violence used against them.

The NCPN supports the demonstrating students and staff and stands beside them in the struggle. Following similar actions in the US and other European countries, a tent camp was started on the Roeterseiland campus of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) last week. The action soon spread to Utrecht, Groningen, Maastricht, Leiden, Eindhoven, Wageningen, Nijmegen, The Hague and Rotterdam.

The NCPN supports the demands of the protesting students and staff, including:

  • Educational institutions must cut ties with Israeli universities and institutions.
  • Educational institutions must boycott Israeli products.
  • An end to repression and police violence against protesters.

The NCPN condemns the unjustified and brutal police violence used against peaceful students and staff. Hundreds of students and staff have been victims of extreme police violence and repression during these protests. In Amsterdam and Utrecht, the university administration deployed the riot police (ME), even while negotiations were still ongoing, to clear tent camps and occupations. In the process, university students and staff sustained serious injuries such as concussions, broken knees and bruised ribs. CJB members that study or work at universities and participate in protests also fell victim to this repression, were mistreated by the police and arrested. On several occasions, the police blocked first-aid services, preventing injured protesters from getting the help they needed.

Most seriously, a journalist and a photographer from the newspaper Manifest became victims of police brutality and were arrested, while trying to report honestly on the student actions. In the process, the photographer’s camera was destroyed. These actions by the police are a serious attack on freedom of press and expression.

The NCPN condemns the attempts from bourgeois politics to distort the content of the protests and justify the unjustified police violence against students and workers. It is downright disgusting that outgoing prime minister Mark Rutte portrays the demonstrations as ‘anti-Semitic’. Hypocritical is that Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema and the UvA board argue that the deployment of the ME, in which dozens of peacefully demonstrating students were injured, was necessary ‘to ensure safety for students’. What is striking is that social democratic parties such as GroenLinks and PvdA stand side by side with right-wing parties and even far-right parties, such as PVV, Ja21, FvD and so on, together justify the repression against students and staff using the same false arguments.

There is an attempt to undermine the broad support and sympathy for the actions by portraying them in a bad light. There were some provocations in which unknown figures aimlessly vandalised items needed by students and staff for their studies or work. Such incidents show the need for the strengthening of the student movement and the CJB at educational institutions, to strengthen the organisation and struggle of students and withstand such provocations.

The NCPN rejects the encouragement of repression by the boards of educational institutions themselves. The Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) and Union of Universities of Applied Sciences (VH) published guidelines on how to deal with protests on Tuesday 14 May. These rules give educational institutions free rein to bar almost all protests: protests must be approved, demonstrators must identify themselves, and occupations – which have traditionally been an important means of student struggle – are no longer classified as protests but as a ‘criminal offence’. Application of such measures effectively means that freedom of protest exists only on paper.

These measures are closely linked to the increasing commercialisation of education, which increasingly puts education at the service of capital. Students are treated as individual ‘customers’, with their well-being and development being subordinated to the money they bring in. From this point of view, any protest and co-determination that threatens the profit motive of educational institutions or their connection to business is defused or harshly crushed.

The UNL and VH measures clearly show where the priorities of educational institutions in the Netherlands lie. Not in protecting students, not in facilitating conversation and discussion, not even in ensuring ‘academic freedom’, but in maintaining ties with a country that the Dutch state sees as a ‘strategic partner’, while it is an occupying power guilty of genocide of the Palestinian population. Educational institutions put profits above the interests of their own students and staff; above the lives of the Palestinian people.

The NCPN continues to fight for an end to genocide and the Israeli occupation, for the liberation of the Palestinian people, against the support of the Dutch state to the Israeli occupation forces. In this struggle, we stand alongside the staff and students who rightly hold their educational institutions responsible for their ties with Israel guilty of genocide. Only international solidarity and the joint struggle of the working class can bring an end to the imperialist system that creates and sustains such terrible crimes. Only together can we create a world where education does not serve profit but people.

Freedom for Palestine, stop Dutch cooperation with the genocidal state of Israel!
For free demonstrations at educational institutions, against repression of student protests!
Their struggle, our struggle, international solidarity!

CC of the NCPN