One of the students who was arrested in March for demonstrating against the presence of oil company Shell at a TU/e career fair has been declared innocent by the judge.
About twenty students were arrested in March. Then they were fined heftily. Bram, one of the activists who was arrested at the university, was fined 300 euros. He challenged that, which meant that he had to appear in court on Friday 7 October.
The judge was then clear in his judgment, says Bram. “Our freedom to demonstrate should never have been curtailed. That confirms the feeling we had at the time. We were very surprised that after five minutes of demonstration, the police were right in front of us.”
It is unclear whether the prosecution will appeal the ruling. The OM (Netherlands Public Prosecution Service) had initially dropped the demand for the fine because it was under the assumption that the students made the entire career event inaccessible. This turned out not to be the case during the lawsuit – the fair could continue as usual. “The Public Prosecution Service then dropped the demand for the fine, but they wanted me to be found guilty. Fortunately, that didn’t happen,” says Bram.
As a result of the events, the relationship between the university and the students has deteriorated, says the student-cum-climate activist. “Yes, that seems logical to me. If you think the presence of a company like Shell, which has been spreading lies about climate change for years, is more important than the well-being of your students, then that is not a basis for building a good relationship,” says Bram.
How can that relationship be improved? “Apologies from the university for its behavior would be in order. They haven’t come yet.”
But rather than apologies, Bram prefers something else. “Transparency. That the university is open and honest about its ties to the fossil fuel industry and how much money is involved. But that honestly seems like a utopia to me,” said Bram.
Source : Studio040
Translate: Ayşenur Kuran