Statement from Teachers at Berlin Universities

Open Letter in support of the Right to Protest signed by over 1,000 educators


Editor’s Note: On 7th May, authorities at the Freie Univerität (FU) called the police who cleared a Camp for Gaza organised by FU students. In response, teaching staff released this open letter, which over 1,000 educators have since signed. Thanks to the teaching staff for providing theleftberlin with this English language version of their open letter.

As lecturers at Berlin universities, our professional standards require us to stand by our students as equals, ensuring their safety and protection from any form of police violence.

Regardless of whether we agree with the specific demands of the protest camp, we firmly support our students’ right to peaceful protest, including their occupation of university grounds. These are core democratic rights of assembly and expression that must be upheld, especially within academic settings. Given the dire situation in Gaza and the announced bombardment of Rafah, it should be understandable to recognize the urgency behind the protesters’ cause, even if we don’t endorse every detail of their demands or their chosen methods.

Constitutionally protected rights to protest are not contingent on dialogue, but we do believe it’s the duty of university leadership to prioritize dialogue and seek non-violent resolutions whenever possible. Unfortunately, the recent dismantling of the protest camp by the Free University of Berlin (FU Berlin) administration, without prior dialogue, was a breach of this responsibility. The right to peaceful assembly is not conditioned on specific viewpoints and extends to public spaces like the FU Berlin campus, as confirmed by the German Federal Constitutional Court (“Fraport” case).

We urge Berlin university administrations to avoid police interventions and further legal actions against their own students. Dialogue with students and preserving universities as hubs of critical discourse should be paramount, which cannot coexist with police interventions on campus. It is only through open engagement and debate that we, as lecturers and institutions, fulfill our responsibilities.