SULAYMANIYAH, Kurdistan — Around 100 women at the University of Sulaymaniyah breached the college’s 5 p.m. curfew for female students Nov. 23, walking out of their dorms at 11 p.m. to protest living conditions there. The protest continued until midnight with students blocking the main road outside the college, demanding warm water, heaters, cleaning services and the removal of stray dogs from the campus.
Dormitory manager Nazhad Hussein threatened to suspend the students involved. “Now that you are protesting like this, I will bring more dogs,” Hussein is reported to have told the women.
The following day the action spread, growing to 1,000 students, male and female, above, who announced a boycott of their classes. In addition to fighting for decent basic living conditions, the students broadened their demands to include the right to elect their own representatives. Currently they are appointed by political parties on the campus.
Students who live off campus joined those from the dorms, chanting, “Not outsiders, not insiders, we are all students.”
When cops threatened to arrest some protesters, students chanted, “Either take us all, or none of us.” The cops backed off.
Students have faced these demeaning conditions for years. The university administration shut down the dormitories Nov. 25, declared a “vacation,” and pledged to fix the situation. By Dec. 6 college authorities started to provide warm water and heating to the dorms and replaced Hussein as dormitory manager. Students vow they will continue to fight for all their demands.
Students organized to display open umbrellas, inset, along the campus walkways decorated with slogans that read “Dorms ≠ Prison, Dorms = Opening up” and “Student ≠ Robot, Student = Creation.” Among those organizing the protests were the May’68 group and the recently formed “students spontaneous movement.”