Socialist Students, one of the organisations at the heart of the 2010 student movement against tuition fees, has strongly condemned recent revelations about police surveillance of political campaigns and student activists. Students from the group, who are involved in organising against cuts, fees and privatisation on campuses, have said it ‘makes a mockery’ of the democratic right to protest in Britain. This comes a day following a student demonstration against the closure of the University of London Union, which saw a large and heavy handed police presence prevent students from entering their own campus and, following which, the president of the students’ union has been arrested.
Edmund Schluessel, Socialist Students member and NUS National Executive Councillor said:
“The videos released give categorical evidence that the police targeted groups on a political basis, including those involved in peaceful protest. This follows several revelations of police surveillance of activists, which included systematic infiltration of groups like Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE) during the 1990s.The huge student movement of 2010 broke the consensus and in many ways humiliated the police. These are outrageous attacks on basic democratic freedoms and the right to protest. These surveillance techniques, coupled with heavy handed and often violent policing, are designed to limit the effectiveness of protests and intimidate demonstrators. Protest is increasingly becoming a criminalised act. Alongside this, anti-trade union laws are making strike action increasingly difficult to organise legally. Clearly, there is a deep seated fear at the heart of the establishment about the potential momentum that campaigns like these could gain. As brutal austerity intensifies and Cameron declares its permanency, it is vital that we defend the right to protest.”
Socialist Students is campaigning defend the right to protest. They plan to link up with other groups, such as YRE, to build the fight for democratic rights.