KYIV – The European Students’ Union (ESU) has joined the Europe-wide protest against the government of Ukraine for not respecting basic human rights and refusing to listen to its citizens. All violence against peaceful protesters must be stopped immediately and cases of illegal arrests, torture and killings investigated. The conflict must be resolved through a dialogue.
Student led protests have been silenced numerous times by authorities through arbitrary arrests and threats of expulsion from universities. These protests intensified when the Ukrainian Parliament adopted on January 16 a new anti-protest legislation. On January 22, five people were killed and many severely beaten by the riot police, including a student, Mikhail Nizkoguz. Another six students from Karpenko-Kary Kyiv national university of theatre, movie and TV were removed and arrested following a demonstration.
Although Ukraine is a signatory member to the European Convention on Human Rights, its government has not respected its obligations. ESU condemns the escalating violence in Ukraine and the radicalisation of the means of actions from both parties. Citizens should be able to express their opinions freely.
“It can have damaging consequences for the development of Ukrainian society if human rights are limited and the conflict not resolved with peaceful means. Citizens must be able to trust their elected representatives and students their education system. Otherwise, the country’s economic, political, social and democratic development will be refrained,” says Gabriela Bergan, Human Rights and Solidarity Coordinator of ESU.
ESU stands in solidarity with Ukrainian citizens
Demonstrations in Ukraine started in late November 2013 when the Ukrainian government refused to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union and accepted to join the Russian customs union instead. ESU has stood in solidarity with Ukrainian students and other citizens since the beginning of those protests. Acts of violence and repression were condemned by the 47 national unions of students that are members of ESU, at the union’s Board Meeting in December in Zagreb, Croatia. ESU and several of its member unions have also sent letters to Ukrainian embassies and other institutions to express their solidarity with Ukrainian citizens, urging the authorities to stop all repressive acts.
Students, in particular, have been at risk during this process since they are often a leading group in massive demonstrations.
“ESU supports Ukrainian students who are a driving force for change and play a key role in bringing democratic transformation to their countries. Their determination inspires many as citizens all over Europe join in support of demonstrations and assemblies in their respective countries,” Bergan concludes.
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.