MINSK: Escalation of crackdown on student movement in Belarus; ESU calls on protection of academic freedom and student rights
On the December 2 in Minsk student activists marched in a peaceful demonstration against the complementary fees that have been introduced in several universities including Belarusian State University (BSU). Demonstrants addressed the issue of continuous oppression on student activists protesting against the introduction of fees. Consequently students demanded the right to independent self-organisation and governance of student movement.
During the march, BSU carried out attendance-checks in clasrooms and threatened students with punishment in case of participation. Multiple other actions against the students were carried out by higher education institutions, from threats of expulsion to ransacking student organisation offices. Also BSU executes its authority and applies additional tests to discourage students to participate in protests. Failing these tests might also serve as an excuse for expulsion from the university.
The European Students’ Union is appalled by the actions of BSU and other universities in Belarus and urges Belarusian authorities to immediately stop the oppressions on students. ESU appeals to Bologna Follow Up Group (BFUG), BFUG Advisory Group on Support for the Belarus Roadmap, Magna Charta Observatory and Council of Europe (CoE) to safeguard the academic freedom and students’ rights in Belarus as well as address these issues with the Belarusian higher education institutions and Belarusian Ministry of Education.
Belarusian State University and several other universities in Belarus have introduced or announced the introduction of complementary fees for failed exams. Belarusian students started a campaign against the reform, reaching 2,500 students’ signatures. This resulted in BSU and other institutions pressuring the activists to stop the protest. The introduction of the complementary fees was formalised just the day after the students presented the signatures to the rector.
We encourage everyone to spread the word, using hastags, such as #:
#?????????????? – means “StudentsAgainst” (from Russian)
@euobs – EU observer
@hrw – Human Rights Watch
and whatever you find relevant