Bulgarian students protest for 'change' Favorite 

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Jan 11 2013

Location: 

Sofia University

“Wake up!” chanted some 2,000 protesters rallying in front of Sofia University after students, who have been occupying part of the university since October 25, called for faculty and anti-government protesters to join their demonstration.

Protesters marched in the streets of Sofia to the beat of drums, chanting “Resign!” and “Red trash!”, blocking the traffic in downtown Sofia, AFP reports.

The students’ recent actions have had rejuvenating effects on the anti-government movement, fledging after 141 days. Boïtcho Pentchev, a literature professor, told AFP he hopes that “the student movement will give a new momentum to the protests happening since June”.

Near the end of the demonstration, some protesters tried to put a cordon around the Parliament building with a human chain in an attempt to block MPs inside, local media reported. Riot police intervened, leading to clashes between anti-government protesters and police force.

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, the main target of the protests since June, remained unfazed. He criticised the students’ actions: “I expected a different kind of protest demands from the students – a professional one, about education, because education is not in an excellent shape, while their demands are typical political ones”,

November 1 is a highly symbolic day for students and professors to lead an anti-government rally. On that day, “Bulgaria celebrates its “national enlighteners” – a collective term for all the revolutionaries, clergy and educators that played a key role in the Bulgarian Revival period and the independence fight against the Ottoman Empire,” explains the Sofia Globe.

Sofia University has been occupied since October 25, and classes cancelled since last Monday, with several other universities and colleges joining the movement. Among them, the Bulgarian National Academy For Theatre and Film Arts, the New Bulgarian University, the University of National and World Economy, the Medical School and Plovdiv University, about 120km away from the capital.

On social media, the hashtags #Occupy272, in reference to the lecture hall that was first occupied, and #OccupySU have joined the traditional #ДАНСwithme hashtag used by protesters for more than four months.

Stanislav Kaschiyski, one of the students occupying Sofia University, told euronews by e-mail that for him and his fellow occupiers, a typical day starts early. “We get up early, some of the students leave the building early in the morning, so the others have to keep control of the entrances and react to the media, which is very active from 7am to 9am because of the morning shows, ” explains the journalism student, who is in the final year of his studies.

He would know. At 22, Stanislav works as an editor for the Saturday morning show on the national TV. “When that ends, we have to control the arrival of the administration staff (we allow them to come into the building) and of other students, that have chosen to sleep at home (some of us really need to do that occasionally),” he explains.

The rest of the day is equally busy, according to Stanislav: “By 6pm a group of us goes outside the university and joins the ongoing #DANSwithMe protests. By 9pm – 10pm, we gather at the largest hall at the university 272 (the one we occupied at first) and discuss and vote for different things."

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