At least eight people have been arrested in a fresh police crackdown on protests against rising university tuition costs and restrictions on demonstrations in Canada’s French-speaking province of Quebec. The arrests made on Wednesday when thousands of people took to streets of the provincial capital, Montreal to show their outrage at the government’s policies on the opening day of campaigning for upcoming general elections.
Police used force to disperse the protesters and claimed the demonstration was illegal because the officials had not issued permission for the rally.According to protesters, the Wednesday protest marked the 100th demonstration since the start of student protests in February over rising cost of education.
Premier Jean Charest announced Wednesday the province would head to the general polls in early September.The main opposition Parti Quebecois, which supports the protesters, hopes to sweep further seats in the September 4 legislative elections. On July 23, a lower court rejected the petition submitted by the students, which had called for the suspension of two provisions of a controversial law, passed in May in the wake of clashes between the police and the students protesting a potential 82-percent hike in tuition fees in the province. The so-called Special Law 78 obliges the organizers to inform the police about the timing and location of marches at least eight hours before they stage the protest move. It also allows imposing heavy fines on the protesters who fail to do so.
Critics believe the law breaches the rights of assembly and free expression. The police have arrested many people since the start of the protests more than several months ago.University students and student unions have been protesting since mid-February to draw international attention to the government's announced plans to raise tuition fees. DB/JR