Around 40 members of Trinity’s postgraduate community gathered outside the Dining Hall this afternoon “to affirm the values of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the freedom to disagree”.
The event was organised by the Graduate Students Union (GSU) and was addressed by the union’s president Shaz Oye, who thanked those gathered for coming together in “a peaceful standing in solidarity meeting to condemn all forms of violence and repression against students and staff in universities everywhere”.
Oye said that “one of the things I love about this university is that we can agree to disagree”. And that the GSU is “committed to the strengthening of human rights and fundamentals”.
Speaking to Trinity News, Oye said that “reports of alleged repression of protests in some universities in India” had been a “catalyst” for the meeting “but not what [the meeting] was about today”. She insisted that it was “not a political protest”, but was instead a “solidarity meeting” to “stand for the right to disagree”.
The gathering was also addressed by Aastha Anu, a Trinity postgraduate student and Indian national.
Speaking to Trinity News, Anu stated that in her home country “people are getting beaten up for peacefully protesting” and that “human rights and freedom of speech are in danger”.
Addressing those gathered, Anu stated: “The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental right to all citizens and is protected under Article 90 of the Indian constitution as well as The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Today we stand here with solidarity with all those who exercise and continue to exercise this fundamental right.”
Anu also cited that “the journey of Indian and Irish independence was paved with a number of peaceful protests”.
Anu then asked those assembled to recite with her the poem “Where The Mind Is Without Fear” by Rabindranath Tagore. The poem was written prior to Indian independence and depicts a vision for a free India.
Nikolai Lubrano, one of the postgraduate students who attended the gathering, told Trinity News that he was there to support “the right to protest, to stand up for your opinion and for what you think is right”, adding that in his home country of Malta “there are protests that have been met with hostility by police”.
Following the speeches given by Oye and Anu, the meeting was then taken inside The Buttery where students had the opportunity to discuss the themes of freedom of expression and protest in more detail.