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Kabul University Students Call off Hunger Strike

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KABUL – Ethnic Hazara student protesters on Monday abruptly called off an eight-day hunger strike after lawmakers said their claims of discrimination at Kabul University were untrue. The protesters, all students in the university’s social sciences faculty, launched their strike outside the parliament last week, saying they had been subjected to harassment and prejudicial grading by university staff.

The protesters also called for the replacement of outdated teaching materials, a new library, and reliable Internet connections. On May 26, higher education minister Obaidullah Obaid suspended the faculty’s dean and a lecturer in response to the protesters’ demands. But a parliamentary commission said a day after it had reviewed university documents and found the students’ claims of unfair grading were false.

The hunger strike was ended after hundreds of their fellows protested in favour of the suspended dean and lecturer. But nearly 200 students held a gathering in northern Balkh province, voicing their support for the striking students and asked the central government to help end the strike. In Kabul, more than 500 students staged a protest, saying the students on fast were acting at the behest of outsiders.

They chanted slogans in favour of the university staff and asked the government and parliament not to listen to hunger strikers’ demands. “The students on strike do not represent the entire faculty, they want to reach their specific goals by acting on the directives they receive from outside,” one of the protesters, Abdul Ahad, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

He said the striking students wanted to earn a bad name to the prestigious university and disrupt education environment on the campus. In Mazar-i-Sharif, provincial council members and Balkh University students held a gathering, lending their weight behind students on hunger strike in Kabul.

Nearly 200 students took part in the gathering that began at 9am at the office of provincial council. Speaking on behalf of Balkh university students, Mohammad Fidakar, told Pajhwok Afghan News they supported every demand aimed at bringing about positive reforms to Kabul University. (PAN)

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