Update: More Student Groups Join Academic Boycott over Foreign Agents Law

More student groups at top Georgian universities from Tbilisi to Batumi have joined the recently announced academic boycott as part of ongoing protests against the foreign agents law.

On May 11, a group of students of Tbilisi State University said they’d be boycotting the academic process, vowing not to enter the lecture halls from Monday, May 13. The group called on its lecturers and students from other universities to join the strike. Soon, other announcements were made by student groups at other Georgian universities expressing solidarity with the ongoing protests and pledging not to participate in academic activities.

“It is no longer enough just to stand at the rallies and protest,” TSU students said in the initial announcement, citing a recent violent campaign against the government critics and recent “unlawful and brutal attacks on peaceful demonstrations” in Tbilisi. “Today it’s not only about protecting the European future, which we’ve never been so close to losing,” but also about countering the “dictatorial processes” in the country, the students said.

According to the students, the recent developments made it impossible for them “to sit quietly in the lecture halls.” Instead, they pledged to stand on Tbilisi’s Rustaveli Avenue from 9 o’clock on Monday to protest “the attempt to legalize the current Putinist dictatorship in the country.”

Student groups from several other universities joined the strike, including Ilia State University, Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University, Caucasus University, International Black Sea University, the University of Georgia, Georgian-American University, Free University of Georgia and AgrUni, Georgian National University, ALTE University, Tbilisi State Medical University (TSSU), Akaki Tsereteli State University in Kutaisi, Batumi Maritime University, and Ivanishvili founder, Kutaisi International University.

TSSU students pledged to protect the health of fellow citizens, homeland and its values, and vowed not to give up “the freedom earned with the ancestors’ blood.” “We vow not to allow our white coat to be trampled by a Russian military boot.” The students said they will never tolerate being called “Russia’s doctors.”

Some professors and lecturers expressed solidarity with students.

Over a hundred lecturers of the Tbilisi State University have already signed a joint statement in support of the students. “We believe that it is unacceptable for the so-called “Russian law” to be adopted in any form, and it is necessary to immediately stop its consideration, because it undermines the European and Euro-Atlantic course of the country and returns the country to the difficult past, which our society has repeatedly rejected,” the statement says.

TSU lecturers condemned the violence and attempts of intimidation of protesters against the Foreign Agents Law. “Once again, we state clearly that we stand with our students and act in their best interests and the best interests of our country. Therefore, we join the students in the rallies, and if they decide to stop the educational process, we will join them in this decision. The missed lectures and seminars will be compensated later, again in consultation with the students.”

“We call on the rector of the university, Academician Jaba Samushi, to openly and clearly state his position on the “Russian law”, violence and intimidation attempts against students and professors, and to ensure that no problems are created for protesting students, academic and administrative staff,” the statement concludes. As of 00:17, May 13, 177 lecturers have signed the statement.

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