Row Erupts Over Birmingham Protest Ban
A row has erupted over the banning of ‘occupation-style’ protests at the University of Birmingham after the passing of a high court injunction last week.
The Guardian reports that UK human rights groups have reacted angrily to the order that has banned protest on the University campus for up to 12 months without prior written consent. Activists have claimed that this is an undeniable breach of basic human rights. The move was described as ‘worrying, aggressive and censorious’.
The University of Birmingham is not the first to take legal action to combat sit-in protests after the University of Sheffield took similar action recently to quash an occupation of its Arts Tower. It is also unlikely to be the last with rumours that a third university will take action of this nature in the near future.
The University of Birmingham responded to reports by denying that the injunction places a gagging order on its students. A spokesperson for the University emphasised that the order applies only to the occupation of university buildings as protests of this type lead to ‘significant safety issues’.
Universities have been plagued by protests for the last year after public sector strikes and objection to the rise in tuition fees from September 2012. But do they have the right to silence students? Is there anything wrong with peaceful protest or do ‘occupations’ take things too far?