Univ. Amsterdam "regrets" eviction, says talks with protesters continue

UvA staff members adressing students on Saturday with police presence in the background (Picture: Twitter/@rethinkUvA)UvA staff members adressing students on Saturday with police presence in the background (Picture: Twitter/@rethinkUvA)

Amidst mounting pressure to resign over the police-led eviction of protesters camped at a university administration building, the University of Amsterdam Executive Board (CvB) said that it "regrets" having to evict the students, a new statement from the CvB reads. The board said the decision was unavoidable, as a judge agreed with the university's position that safety could not be guaranteed if protesters were to move forward with a planned festival last weekend.

The statement on the events of Saturday, when Maagdenhuis protesters were cleared from the building, was released just hours before another demonstration was planned against the university in Amsterdam.

The board added that all agreements reached behind the scenes between them and the protesters were later publicly rejected by the occupiers. Force was only applied two months into the occupation, and after two court rulings requiring protesters to vacate the university buildings.

Initial agreements with the protesters’ organization (DNU) were reached during the occupation of Bugenhuis through intermediation of the mayor, wrote the CvB. However, the agreements were later rejected by the general assembly of the DNU. The organization then lost a lawsuit with the judge concluding that the building should be vacated, after which the occupation of Maagdenhuis began.

After that negotiations continued until a ten-point plan for university modernization was developed by the university. This led to a new agreement with the protesters, including the end of the Maagdenhuis occupation. However, the protesters insisted on several conditions, such as retaining autonomous spaces in the building. That did not correspond to the terms of the CvB, and DNU opted to remain in the building.

They promised to hold a humanities festival last weekend and to restart the protest with harder actions on Monday. They also accused the UvA of using intimidation as tactics for protest suppression.

According to the CvB statement, the commitments and cooperation by UvA were twisted in that act, and the university decided to sue DNU to clear the building. The court took the side of the university, and agreed that the festival plans were too risky. The protesters decided to remain in the building and were forced out by the police on Saturday when the festival was to begin.

The Board expressed their regrets about the events. They remarked that their responsibilities and the inability of the DNU to provide necessary safety arrangements left the university no choice but to interfere. They also expressed their commitment to the renewal agenda in a promise to address it in talks with employees and involved groups.