Archive for February, 2009

Police repression of students: Another brick in the wall

Note: I wrote this article last summer, and it was published in Canadian Dimension, but in a highly edited way. This is the original, unedited version.

POLICE REPRESSION OF STUDENTS: Another brick in the wall

I learned that policemen are my friends
I learned that justice never ends
I learned that murderers die for their crimes
Even if we make a mistake sometimes
And that’s what I learned in school today
That’s what I learned in school

— Tom Paxton, “What Did You Learn in School Today?”

For the first time in over thirty-five years, the University of Toronto’s administration pressed charges against fourteen campus activists, who were arrested in late April by Toronto Police, for alleged forcible confinement, mischief to property and forcible detainer. The criminal offences allegedly occurred over a month before the arrests, at a peaceful sit-in staged on March 20 by over forty students and activists to protest fee hikes. The sit-in ended when administrators ordered campus police to violently remove protestors.

This group of protestors, who with other allies would later form the Committee for Just Education, argues for free education, questions the legitimacy of the administration’s authority, and makes its points through constant direct action. This kind of resistance is quite unsightly when UofT’s administration is publicly calling for the deregulation of student fees and massive commercialization of the university, as demonstrated in its Towards 2030 plan. Among other things, this plan blames poor people for not having the initiative to “assume debt” to finance their pursuit of postsecondary education (

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Writing on Mozambique, pt. 6: Independence

Frelimo’s advances in the guerrilla war against Portuguese colonialism in Mozambique led to the disillusionment of Portuguese troops and citizens in the colonial mission. While Frelimo attempted to bring about a social revolution in the liberated zones it made military advances in the rest of Mozambique. Meanwhile, in Portugal, internal contradictions came to a head. On April 25, 1974, military officers in Portugal staged a coup against the fascist regime. Hastings notes that “the single most decisive factor behind the April coup in Portugal was the advance of Frelimo in Mozambique” [AH 263]. Although a significant majority of the 80,000 troops in Mozambique by 1974 were indigenous, there were still tens of thousands of Portuguese soldiers deployed there, and many more in Angola and Guinea-Bissau. Also, there were apparently 100,000 draft resisters and deserters who were living outside of Portugal [RL 38].

Negotiations and military struggle for independence

Fighting did not stop after the coup in Portugal, as various military and political figures seemed to have differing ideas about how Mozambique should be managed. Some elements, represented by the Head of State General Antonio Spinola, looked to preserve some kind of arrangement where Mozambique would be part of a federation. Other elements, including the more leftist Armed Forces Movement, seemed to want to get rid of the colonial system entirely [JM 5]. After the coup, the new Portuguese regime looked to negotiate with Frelimo in order to bring the fighting to an end. Portugal’s negotiations team ended up embodying these two tendencies, one of what was perceived as neocolonialism, the other of ending colonialism entirely.

Frelimo’s position remained consistent:

recognition of the inalienable right of Mozambique to independence, transfer of power to the Mozambican people, and acceptance of FRELIMO as their sole, legitimate, representative. [JM 5]

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