THOUSANDS of school and university students in Nicosia protested against the bailout memorandum and the troika yesterday outside parliament and at the presidential palace.
Students met at Solomou Square in old Nicosia at 10am and marched from Diagorou Street to parliament and then onto the presidential palace.
They were escorted by police as protesters held banners reading: ‘People fight. They are drinking our blood’, and ‘You have destroyed our future and our dreams.’ Protesters also shouted slogans like ‘Troika go home’ and ‘Troika out of Cyprus’, substituting the usual word ‘Turks’ in the more-familiar version of the chant: ‘Turks out of Cyprus’
“They’ve just gotten rid of all our dreams, everything we’ve worked for, everything we’ve achieved up until now, what our parents have achieved,” one student who gave his name as Thomas,  told Reuters.
The students arrived outside the presidential palace at around 11.15am where police officers stood guard outside. Some students climbed over the railing and some threw oranges and plastic bottles at officers, while one student burnt a German flag.
At around 12 noon the protest dissolved peacefully.
Zina Poulli, head of middle education stated on Monday that “all students that will leave class tomorrow (Tuesday) will receive an absence.” In order for a student not to receive an absence from school due to protest, the Cypriot Student Coordinating Committee must agree that students are allowed to protest.
“The ministry of education sent a fax to all headmasters explaining the situation and asking them to talk to the students and discourage them from leaving school premises,” Eleni Karou, an officer in charge at the ministry of education said.
The European University students union had a meeting with the student organisation on Sunday, where it was decided that university students would also participate in the protest.
“We had to protest to send a message to the troika and to Europe that we will not accept their terms lying down,” George Antoniou, an organiser at the European University Student Union, said.
The Cypriot Student Coordinating Committee released a statement saying: “The Cypriot Student Coordinating Committee would like to clarify that it had no say in today’s protest, as we consider that such protests should not have to do with political parties and also that this kind of behaviour is not in our country’s best interest at the moment. Despite our opposition to today’s protest, we will contact the ministry of education to ask that today’s absences be justified and we are sure that the ministry will reply positively. We would also like to add that any further protests will not be approved by our committee and all responsibilities lie with the students and teachers themselves. Therefore we urge the Provincial Student Coordinating Committee of Limassol to cancel the protest they have planned for tomorrow (Wednesday), so that all students can sit together and find ways in which we can act with dignity,” it said.
The statement added: “During these critical times, students should remain united and show  a good example. This is the only way that we can succeed.”

Cyprus Mail

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