June 12, 2021
Since the rigged Presidential elections of 9th August 2020, demonstrations have been taking place in Belarus to call for respect to Democracy and Human Rights. Belarusian authorities have been cracking down dissent in every sector of society. Higher Education has not been spared: as of 21st May 2021, at least 480 students have been detained and 154 were expelled from their universities (read here for more information). At least 41 students are under criminal prosecution (with sentences up to 4 years of prison), 12 of whom are now under a collective trial (the “student case”) started on 14th May 2021. Many student activists are now living in exile in several European countries: their safety is however not granted, as the case of hijacking of the Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius perpetrated by Belarusian authorities to arrest the journalist Roman Protasevich and the European Humanities University Sofia Sapega has shown (read here the joint statement issued by EHU student union, the Lithuanian National Union of Students, the Belarusian Students’ Association and the European Students’ Union).
Belarusian students need your help! Here is a list of things that you can do to help them:
- Stay informed and spread news: read here BSA report on repressions against students (it is regularly updated); read here BSA report on repressions in Academia in period from August to December 2020; read here stories of the 12 students involved in the “student case”; promote the Scholars’ At Risk call to action; share Amnesty International publication with some of the stories of the detained students; promote the joint statement by the European University Association, Scholars At Risk and the European Students’ Union on Europe to take action against criminalisation of students and academics.
- Organise peaceful demonstrations: in big cities or big universities (e.g. through solidarity chains, or student gatherings with posters and placards) to (1) raise awareness on ongoing persecution of peaceful demonstrators and (2) to show support to Belarus and students. Please share (if possible in English and/or in your native language) pictures, videos and live streams of your demonstrations on social media using #westandwithbelarus / #freebelarus and tag ESU, BSA and BOSS. E.g.: Human Chain in Lithuania. Here you can find photos of the 12 students of the “student case” to print and use them during the demonstrations.
- Fundraise for the students: here you can donate to support repressed students, as well as fund the Arkady Smolich scholarships that will be distributed to the imprisoned students immediately after their release. Each quarter donors will receive a report on the funds received and spent. Please share (if possible in English and/or in your native language) any funding campaigns on social media using #westandwithbelarus / #freebelarus and tag ESU, BSA and BOSS.
- Call for attention to the student repression and the exiled students by the European authorities: You can contact the MEPs of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Belarus to organise a specific session to draw attention upon repressed and exiled students.
- Call upon your higher education institutions to address letters to Belarusian institutions: Address joint letters co-signed by your student unions (national/regional/local/ institutional) and your institutional leaders (deans, senates, councils and academics) to the universities in Belarus (1) condemning violation of students’ rights to peaceful demonstrations, (2) demanding values of academic freedom to be upheld, (3) to express a warning to terminate any engagement with those Belarusian universities where students reportedly being persecuted and detained. Contacts of the Belarusian universities and their social media accounts, as well as the list of partnerships they have with European universities, can be found here. Please share these letters over social media, tag the universities, use the hashtags of the campaign and tag ESU, BSA and BOSS. We kindly ask you to share pictures of you/ NUS with the printed letters written with your institution representatives before sending it to the authorities and share it on social media along with the hashtags proposed above. Likewise, if you have any meetings with institutional, national representatives.
Please remember to document all actions and keep us, [email protected], [email protected], as well as [email protected] and [email protected] in the loop to share these over our online platforms.
Read ESU’s statement and resolutions:
1) on the Presidential elections in Belarus;
2) on pressure on academia in Belarus;
3) on Human Rights Crisis in Academia in Belarus in the period December 2020 – May 2021;
4) on the hijacking on the situation in Belarus – joint statement by EHU-SU, LSS, BSA, ESU
5) on Europe to take action against criminalisation of students and academics – joint statement by ESU, Scholars At Risk and the European University Association.