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Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
Ethiopian students remain defiant
Police corner a demonstrator
The April riots left a bitter taste with the students
Nita Bhalla in Addis Ababa

Ethiopian students are leaving the Addis Ababa University campus after attempts by the university authorities to end the two-month class boycott finally failed.


We have tried to compromise with the government, but all we get is trouble back

Student
Despite calls for the students to return to class attendance has been minimal since April, when student protests for academic rights degenerated into the worst public disturbances in a decade.

The students said on Monday they are leaving the campus because their demands for an extra two months to complete their academic year have not been met.

They also said they are fed up by the lack of response from the government to their demands for the release of their colleagues, who they say are being held in detention camps and police stations all over the country.

Demands

Last week, the students asked for a two month extension of the academic year because of the time lost due to the disturbances.

The university administration refused, agreeing to six weeks extension instead.

Detained students
The students say some of those detained in April have not been released
The newly appointed president of the university, Professor Eshetu Wencheku said: "The university administration and Ministry of Education discussed this in great detail and we feel that six weeks is enough time to prepare students for examinations."

The students disagree. One told me: "As an Ethiopian I should have been given all conditions conducive for my studies and that is not the case in this country."

"We have tried to compromise with the government, but all we get is trouble back. We've had a miserable life in this period."

Professor Eshetu, who was appointed last Friday, admitted it is a difficult situation.


We understand the stress and anxiety that the students have been under

University president
"We understand the stress and anxiety that the students have been under," he said, "and all the staff will be available to help them with their studying and preparations for the exams".

Professor Eshetu also said that the students leaving the campus may face expulsion.

But students say they will not heed to threats.

They warn that just as it did in April, this crisis could lead to mass protests in higher learning institutions throughout the country, bringing higher education in Ethiopia to a virtual standstill.

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See also:

26 Apr 01 | Africa
Ethiopian students released
21 Apr 01 | Africa
Anger over Ethiopian detainees
18 Apr 01 | Africa
More clashes in Addis Ababa
17 Apr 01 | Africa
'Brutal' attack by Addis police
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