Humboldt University: University president praised for dealing with occupiers

Humboldt University: University president praised for dealing with occupiers

Pro-Palestinian students and activists have once again occupied the Humboldt University in Berlin. The university administration initially tolerated the protest and was widely criticized for it. But that’s not all.

The president of Berlin’s Humboldt University (HU) has received support from the Senate and the Technical University for her strategy of dialogue with pro-Palestinian occupiers. “I have great respect for Julia von Blumenthal, who reacted extremely prudently in this difficult situation and showed clear boundaries, but also a willingness to engage in dialogue,” said the president of the TU, Geraldine Rauch, on Friday. Science Senator Ina Czyborra (SPD) also said that the HU management had acted correctly: “de-escalating where it seemed sensible, dialogue-oriented with a sense of proportion and, as a result, consistently.” The Senate Department for Science supported the dialogue, it was said, and at the same time ending the occupation on Thursday evening was the right thing to do.

Pro-Palestinian activists occupied HU premises on Wednesday in protest against Israel and in support of the Palestinians. The university administration initially tolerated this and relied on dialogue with occupiers and scientists. On Thursday evening, the police cleared the occupied building.

Police initiate 25 investigations

According to initial information, the police have initiated 25 criminal investigations. 169 people were briefly arrested on Thursday evening in order to establish their identities, a police spokeswoman said on Friday. There were six more so-called freedom-restricting measures at a subsequent rally and six more reports.

According to Senator Czyborra, the decision to evacuate the building of Berlin’s Humboldt University was made jointly by the Senate and the university. “We have agreed that the university management will end the occupation and that the demonstrators will be asked to leave the occupied institute,” she said, referring to a conversation between Governing Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU), Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD), who is responsible for the police, von Blumenthal and herself. Von Blumenthal, however, had stated that the order to evacuate had come “from the very top.”

TU President Rauch called the actions of Wegner and Czyborra “extremely strange”. “Ms von Blumenthal would have had the premises cleared without orders from above if the dialogue had finally failed. Not only does this show a lack of trust in the university management, it also undermines the university’s autonomy itself.”

“Went to the border with tolerance”

Von Blumenthal defended her actions on Friday on RBB Inforadio. “We have reached a limit with our tolerance because we are convinced that it is necessary to explore these limits to see whether we can still enter into a dialogue with the students.” It was possible to enter into a dialogue with one of the two student groups involved and to reach agreements, such as not to carry out any more graffiti.

In their view, the evacuation began a little too early. “We were (…) in a dialogue in that situation, and from our point of view we would have needed a little more time to see whether we could bring this dialogue to a conclusion ourselves or not,” said von Blumenthal. “We wanted to bring this attempt to an end ourselves. And so we had to break off the attempt at dialogue.”

“The question of evacuation was always an option for us,” explained the university president in the RBB interview. It was clear that the university had set a deadline for the occupiers. “We would have asked them to leave after this deadline, and if they had not left voluntarily, we would have evacuated too,” said von Blumenthal. “Of course. We would not have tolerated this occupation any longer than this evening.”

Source: Stern

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