In the last twenty four hours, it has come out that the 43 students missing in Mexico are now thought to be presumed dead. Suspects in the case of their disappearance apparently confessed to brutally murdering them and then burning their bodies. News like this ordinarily is gruesome and tragic, however – it sticks with me further because these were students and not just any students. These were students who decided to take charge of their education and demand better quality and better access. For this, they were shot at, captured and murdered. Our heartfelt condolences goes out to the families.
Of course – these students are not alone. Historically, the student movement has been one that has challenged governments and the status quo, seeking a change not only for themselves but for society in general. In doing so, they put themselves in harms way; peaceful protest often suppressed by a gunshot, a police baton and imprisonment. As a student activist, I have an immense privilege to be able to do my work in peace without the threat of violence. Many activists around the world do not have this luxury.
We often like to romanticize the student movement, the protests, etc. But remember, that often, standing up for what you believe in comes with an immense cost in many parts of the world and indeed, in Canada as well. Families are affected, people get injured and jailed – it’s not an easy struggle and tonight 43 families mourn the loss of their loved ones. Strike actions and protests often are not choices — but a means to an end, the only way to get things done in some places.
Tonight, I remember those students and commend them standing up for what they believe in while facing a threat, that I will never face in my days of student activism.