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Global Student Stories – 7th of March 2016

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Sarah Morland takes on this week’s Global Student Stories, from North Korea to South Africa. 

North Korea: Detained US student gives press conference

US student Otto Warmbier appeared at a press conference nearly 2 months after his detention for the attempted theft of a propaganda banner at a Pyongyang hotel.

The video appeared on CNN.

The 21-year-old, accused of a hostile act”, spoke at the Peoples Palace of Culture, where he claimed to have been used and manipulatedby the US administration.

Mr Warmbier said he was asked to bring back the banner as a trophyat the request of a woman from his local Methodist Church in exchange for a $10,000 used car.

The University of Virginia junior tearfully begged for forgiveness on behalf of his family.

The USA has itself accused North Korea of parading Mr Warmbier to the media “for propaganda purposes.”

Warmbier said: “I never, never should have allowed myself to by lured by the US administration to commit a crime in this country. I made the worst mistake of my life.

USA: Trump removes black student protesters from campus rally

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump saw groups of black protesters removed from two university rallies on the eve of the Super Tuesday vote.

The first rally took place on Monday at Radford University, Virginia, where dozens of black students were removed for chanting No more hate! No more hate! Lets be equal, lets be great!”.

They were also waving Black Lives Matter posters in response to the candidates recent failure to disavow the Klu Klux Klan on CNN.

Mr Trump responded with: Get them out, get them outAre you from Mexico?

At a rally hours later in Valdosta State University, Georgia, 30 Black Lives Matter silent protesters, dressed in black, were removed from the bleachers by security officials. 

The presidential candidate has denied direct responsibility for the action.

The following day Mr Trump scored a sweeping victory over his rivals, winning in 7 states, including Georgia and Virginia with 38.8% and 34.7% respectively.

South Africa: Student protesters torch university buildings

Two university buildings and a security car were burned down in protests at North-West University, where security fought crowds with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The incident is part of an increasingly violent wave of student protests in South Africa primarily challenging issues of tuition fees and race.

The unrest began on the Mafikeng campus following the inauguration of a new Student Representative Council, the previous one having been dissolved by university management.

A security car was later set on fire alongside the university science centre. The blaze quickly spread to a nearby administration building.

North-West University was shut down “indefinitely” following the fire, joining several of the nation’s top universities to have also been closed in the recent turmoil.

President Jacob Zuma condemned the violence: The burning of university buildings at a time when we are prioritising the education of out youth is inexplicable and can never be condoned.

Hong Kong: Student Occupy leaders stand for trial

Three prominent leaders of Hong Kongs Occupy movement have pleaded non-guilty to the charge of taking part in and inciting unlawful assembly at a trial that opened last Monday.

The accusations relate to a protest days before the citywide Umbrella Movement in September 2014. 

Students and other demonstrators broke into Civic Square in the Government HQ, formerly an area of public protest.

The movement campaigned for an electoral reform which would allow the public nomination of candidates for chief executive and elections without interference from Beijing. 

Tens of thousands occupied busy streets, bringing the city to a halt.

If convicted, Joshua Wong, 19, Alex Chow, 25, and Nathan Law, 22, could all face up to five years of imprisonment.

Student activists have condemned current chief executive Leung Chun-yings attitudes for provoking the existing divisions, while some predict that a prosecution could generate further protests and discontent.

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