Friday, June 17, 2011

AFRICA: MALAWI: CLASH BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND STUDENTS

Fides Service REPORT -The clash between the government and the academic staff to defend the freedom of teaching continues, recognized both by the local Constitution as well as the Treaty of Kampala, of which Malawi is signatory (see Fides 30 / 5 / 2011). On 27 May a protest without any incidents took place attended by professors and students, all wearing a red shirt, the color chosen by the protest movement.
The clash, which originated in February by a lecture held by a professor on the so-called "Arab revolution", progressively exacerbated. "The government closed the university and the Polytechnic, four professors were dragged to court, their salaries were canceled, and they were expelled from university because charged of an illegal strike ... then the four responsible for the 'Academic Staff Union were accused, too" says Fr. Piergiorgio Gamba, Monfort missionary to Fides. "These people have been ridiculed by the government in every way, but their strength is that they have already lived in the past both detention and expulsion, silence and persecution".
"The path covered in the comparison is very close to the culture of Malawi: no violence, paying in person, with people who always look fearful. Thirty years of dictatorship may be cured after two generations, one is not enough to make you forget the fear. The strategy used by teachers is the use of judicial courts, which in turn have deleted the measures that the government wanted to impose" the missionary said.
"Then, when the government could no longer put up resistance, the demonstration started. Students and teachers in their red-colored clothes crossed the city of Zomba, accompanied by a massive police presence, this time without tear gas, because it was obvious that the government did not have a moral majority in this dead end situation created by the government", said Fr. Gamba.
The government has announced that on July 4 the university will reopen". A choice to save face? The many divisions created and the lack of certainty that things have changed is not a good omen for the President, who increasingly uses the tactic of creating problems to appear later as the savior of his country, or even just to distract people's attention from other more serious problems for a country economically adrift " concludes the missionary. (L.M.)

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