Monday 10-04-2017 - 17:54
As the Education sector in Niger is in crisis, the government has responded to students' requests with violence and repression against their national union. For the second semester in a row, students’ have not received their scholarship money, dooming them to a deeper precarity.
All Nigerien students, in Niger or abroad, are impacted by this situation.
In addition to these attacks on students’ welfare and living conditions, professors have not been paid for three months now. These reforms to higher education aim to decrease young people’s social benefits.
Facing this difficult future, Niger’s youth, through their union, USN (Union des Scolaires des Nigériens, the Nigerien students’ union) opposed this imposed social instability and called for a large demonstration movement throughout the country.
Instead of engaging in discussions with the Union, the government’s answer has been the use of excessive force against the demonstrators. Thus, dozens of young individuals were seriously harmed by the police.
Beyond the repression of demonstrations, the national union of students was directly targeted. Their national office was - and still is - occupied by armed forces. Following these acts of violence, a real manhunt was organised by the police, targeting the national leaders. Many of them were seriously harmed, and some are still in hospital right now. The decision of the government is clear: It is USN and its ability to unite the youth that is targeted.
This crackdown happens at a time when a USN delegation is present at the 85th UNEF (Union Nationale des Etudiant-e-s de France, the French students’ union) Convention, alongside a series of students’ organisations from across the world are also gathered to discuss the challenges faced by student’s everywhere. These organisations decided to show their collective support to USN and the Nigerien students’ fight for their rights, by strongly condemning this wave of violent repression.
We demand that the Nigerien government respects students' and unions’ rights to express themselves and to fight against precarity, to assure the payment of the scholarships, and to truly financially invest in higher education. We also demand the payment of professors’ salaries. We call for the international community to support USN’s actions in the defence of students’ material and moral interests.