Bremer: Students, Faculty may Travel Freely Abroad
US civil administrator of Iraq Paul Bremer abrogated all restrictions on the travel abroad of students and faculty at Iraq’s universities on Tuesday, informing them that they were now free to go abroad whenever they had the proper travel documents. The Saddam regime used to forbid such travel for university students and teachers, except for those known to be close regime loyalists. (al-Sharq al-Awsat).
Since these restrictions contravened the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent instruments signed by Iraq, they were always illegal, and it is good to see the end of them.
In other university news, Iraqi students at Baghdad U. protested a move by the Interim Iraqi Student Union requiring that it give prior approval for all posters put up at the university by students. The interim Minister of Higher Education approved the new policy. The protesters complained that this decision was undemocratic and an unwarranted interference with free speech. Presumably the Interim Student Union is an arm of the Interim Governing Council, which is American-appointed.
So, Iraqi students may now take their spring break in Cancun if they can afford it, but they can’t put up a poster criticizing Ahmad Chalabi unless the official “student union” agrees to it.
I’d say this decision undermines the hopes for democracy in Iraq. It is the young people who have to learn how to practice it. Telling them that a new politburo knows best and will set limits on their political speech is not helpful to the democratization process.