What follows is the Sheffield University Amnesty Groups response to the Protest Injunction.
“Within the last 48 hours, Sheffield University have applied for and had successfully approved an injunction which bans any form of protest on campus without the university’s written permission beforehand. We, the Sheffield University Amnesty Group, are deeply concerned that this signifies a severe constraint on the freedom of expression of students and the right to protest. Amnesty International, whilst standing up for all human rights, has always had a defence of freedom of expression and non-violent protest at the heart of its work. It was founded by Peter Benenson after he heard that people in Portugal had been imprisoned merely for expressing their political opinion. Currently in the Middle-East and North Africa, people are putting their lives at risk in places like Syria and Egypt because they believe that they are entitled to peacefully protest against their authoritarian regimes. In our democracy, we take it for granted that we have the basic human right to express our opinion but we must remember this is always a privilege and never an inconvenience. Any accountable body must allow its members to peacefully object to what it proposes to carry out, especially when its members are so crucial to its existence. By banning student protest without written permission, Sheffield University are denying its students this essential right; a right that is set out in legislation under Article 10: Freedom of Expression and Article 11: Freedom of Assembly of the Human Rights Act 1998. Amnesty International has and always will stand with those who are silenced and give a voice to those who are not allowed one. This is why, as a Sheffield University Amnesty Group, we oppose this injunction and any further restriction on peaceful protest. We stand in solidarity with those who oppose it whilst remaining impartial and independent from any political movement.”