Communications and Marketing

H-BRS sets an example for human dignity and democracy

Demo Demokratie und Menschenwürde StA 2024-06-04_Foto Daniela Greulich

Wednesday 5 June 2024

It was a clear sign in favour of human dignity and democracy with which Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg (H-BRS) spoke out against racism, anti-Semitism, hatred and all forms of discrimination: Around 150 participants accepted H-BRS's invitation to a demonstration in Sankt Augustin on Tuesday ( 4th June). Not only students and employees came to the event in the car park in front of the university, but also citizens from the city and the surrounding area.

The President's Office of Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg and the General Students' Committee (AStA) had jointly called for the demonstration, which they had organised under the motto “For human dignity and democracy”.

The university management and student body also wanted to emphasise the importance and value of democratic elections with the event and had chosen a date in the week before the European elections.

Quite a few of the people who had gathered in front of the specially erected stage in the large car park between the university and the Huma shopping centre therefore had a European flag with them.

The university administration was aware that such an event is not an everyday occurrence for a university. ‘A demonstration is an unusual format for us as a university,’ said University President Hartmut Ihne. ‘But we want to take a stand.Science is concerned about anti-democratic tendencies, and we have a social responsibility."

In his speech, University President Ihne addressed the declining number of democratic societies worldwide. ‘We need a strong, resilient democracy that is actively supported by all of us in order to be able to face the major challenges ahead of us: the ecological and digital transformation, the creation of social security, the promotion of economic performance, the overcoming of war and the preservation of peace,’ he said. Democracy begins in the mind and continues with the hands.

The President of the University was followed by the Chair of the General Students' Committee, Masharika Zamil. She placed solidarity among students at the centre of her speech: ‘Solidarity means more than just joint protests or petitions,’ she explained. ‘It means listening to each other, supporting each other and appreciating the diversity of our community.’

Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg attaches great importance to its international orientation. Its students come from 116 nations. The proportion of students who have obtained their higher education entrance qualification abroad is 17 per cent.

Student Klara Ollesch also called for action: ‘Democracy thrives on lively exchange. We can't just sit back and watch, we have to actively help shape it."

Eine andere Perspektive brachte der Wissenschaftler Oleksandr Velihorskyi ein. In seiner auf Englisch gehaltenen Rede ging er auf die Situation seines Heimatlandes, der Ukraine, und die der osteuropäischen Nachbarländer ein. „Es ist ein Privileg in einer Demokratie in Freiheit zu leben“, sagte der Ingenieur und Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter, der sich gerade in Sankt Augustin befand, als der Krieg ausbrach. „Wenn Demokratie und Freiheit einmal verloren sind, dann ist es sehr schwer, sie wieder zurückzugewinnen.“

The academic Oleksandr Velihorskyi contributed a different perspective. In his speech, held in English, he addressed the situation in his home country, Ukraine, and in neighbouring Eastern European countries. "It is a privilege to live in a democracy in freedom,’ said the engineer and research assistant, who was in Sankt Augustin when the war broke out. ‘Once democracy and freedom are lost, it is very difficult to regain them."

Dr Barbara Hillen-Haas addressed the connection between women's rights and freedom: ‘Anyone who thinks that women's rights are none of their business is mistaken. In countries where women's rights are restricted, freedom of the press, freedom of opinion and freedom of research are often also restricted. Freedom gives rise to responsibility: anyone who claims freedom of research but disregards women's rights, for example by abusing their power, is acting irresponsibly and not very democratically."

Sarah Friedrichs described mutual respect as the "key to peaceful coexistence in security and freedom".

The demonstration was opened by Professor Derya Gür-Şeker, who also took over the moderation. At the end, it got really loud again in the car park on Grantham-Allee: the band Knallblech from Bonn played an excerpt from their repertoire and ensured an atmospheric finale with a rousing stage presence.


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Daniela Greulich

Deputy Head of executive department Communications and Marketing/Press and Public Relations, Press Officer


Sankt Augustin


E 237


Grantham-Allee 20

53757, Sankt Augustin


+49 2241 865 641