Australians support Chile’s students

Photo: Jim McIlroy

About 100 people gathered on the steps of the Sydney Opera House on August 21 to show their support for the student movement in Chile, which is campaigning for free education.

As protests and strikes for free education rock the country, more than two dozen high school students have launched a hunger strike until the Chilean government agrees to make public education free.

A solidarity protest also took place in Brisbane’s West End on August 20 in support of the hunger strikers.

In a statement released on August 27, members of Brisbane’s Chilean community called for supporters to rally again on September 3 at 11am in Brisbane’s King George Square.

They said: “Due to the current and ongoing student protests across Chile, the Chilean community in Brisbane would like to add our voices to those of the Chilean students movement, which is in response to the ongoing struggle for free and quality education for all as well as demanding justice and democracy among other demands.

“We feel that quality education is a basic human right, not a luxury or a consumer good. The Chilean state’s ongoing process of elimination and commodification of public education is embodied by the merger, closure and endemic underfunding of municipal schools in poor neighbourhoods, the high level of student indebtedness, and the increasing precarity of employment for teachers, among other things. As such, it is reprehensible.

“The current student mobilisation is in opposition to this process of elimination and we feel it is both reasonable and necessary to ensure this human right is fulfilled.

“Finally, we are making the Chilean government responsible for the health and safety of those participating in demonstrations and others activities demanding those basic rights; we find that it is unacceptable that the Chilean government has had a negative response to this, which is a basic right to free and quality education.

“The Chilean community in Australia would like to demand that the Chilean government find a democratic solution to the current student struggle for better education and for them to stop the repression against its people.”

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