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Thabahtoona accuses UJ campus security of using force against protesters

By Suzanna Goussous - Nov 12,2014 - Last updated at Nov 12,2014

AMMAN — The National Campaign for Defending Students’ Rights, “Thabahtoona”, on Wednesday charged that security forces ended a protest organised near the University of Jordan’s (UJ) main gate “with force” after scuffles broke out between protesters and “thugs”.

Around 300 students had gathered near the gate with the intention of spending the night in a “Student Rage Day” to protest the increase in tuition fees for new students joining the parallel or postgraduate programmes.

A statement posted on Thabahtoona’s Facebook page quoted the campaign’s coordinator, Fakher Daas, as saying that the “violent methods adopted on Tuesday to break up the protest will not deter the movement from continuing its activities in a “peaceful and civilised way” to oppose the decision to “privatise” public universities.

Daas pointed out that the campaign’s protest was announced nearly two weeks ago, to “ensure it does not disturb the educational process at the university”.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Thabahtoona members showed videos and pictures from the sit-in near the university campus to prove claims that “campus security personnel took part in the assault on protesters.”

“We were giving out brochures and stickers about the protest hours before it had started and campus security did nothing about it; that is when we realised something was wrong,” Thabahtoona activist Firas Qasas told The Jordan Times in a phone interview.

Thabahtoona said seven students were injured in the scuffles.

UJ President Ekhleif Tarawneh was not available for comment despite several attempts by The Jordan Times to reach him for comment, but in an interview with the unversity’s radio station, he warned Thabahtoona against “spreading chaos” and disturbing or provoking students.

Tarawneh said Thabahtoona’s actions, including “mobilising young people from outside the university” and staying for long hours in front of the main gate under the pretence of “defending UJ students”, are nothing but “a form of intellectual terrorism” and an attempt to “disturb the harmony” among the student community.

He added that the university will not raise tuition fees for students admitted to the regular and other programmes.

Tarawneh said more than 67 per cent of UJ students are enrolled in these programmes, pointing out that the university incurs around JD20.5 million in education costs for the regular programme, with each student costing it JD1,144 every year.

He said the university decided to raise tuition fees for the parallel and postgraduate programmes to cover its financial needs, especially for the development of infrastructure and vital facilities.

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