european students’ union

ESU supports demonstration against ongoing arrests in Belarus

December 23, 2010

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) will join young Belarusians living in Brussels and their non-profit organisation Office for a Democracy in Belarus for a demonstration against the precarious situation in Belarus, on 12 January at 12.30 in front of the European Parliament building in Brussels. Hearings of the European Parliament will take place on this issue at the same time.

The arrests of political dissidents are still ongoing in Belarus. ESU is especially concerned about the looming new wave of expulsions from Belarusian universities as happened in 2006. Back then, more than 300 student dissidents were expelled from their universities after protests following Lukashenko’s election.
At this moment, there have been no official cases of student expulsions yet and the Belarusian State University denies any listing of expulsion of students participating in the demonstrations in December 2010. “Although we are hopeful, history teaches us that the Lukashenko government will get back to everyone who was in that square on 19 December.  Our members from all over Europe have sent out letters to their respective governments and to the education ministry in Belarus, demanding not to expel the students on the basis of their political beliefs.” says, Bert Vandenkendelaere, Chairperson of ESU.

Around 650 people were arrested after the protests and most were held in jail for five to 15 days. ESU strongly condemns these arrests and holds the opinion that this should not take place in a democratic society. According to reports in the media, 25 persons are accused by the Belarusian police and 15 are suspects in criminal case on mass riots and can be imprisoned for up to 15 years ( http://spring96.org/en/news/40433). The arrests are still ongoing, according to Belarusian media: http://www.data.minsk.by/belarusnews/012011/144.html.

ESU fears that students will be expelled from their university for not participating in the exams as they were imprisoned.  “The possibilities of the Lukashenko-government are vast, and nobody has a reliable insight in their justice system. Only with one united voice Europe can put pressure on his regime to stop these highly undemocratic measures”, concluded Vandenkendelaere.

Background
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has said that the recent Belarusian elections have not been fair and free. During and after demonstrations that followed this verdict, the Belarusian authorities have arrested around 650 citizens, opposition leaders, journalists and students who participated in the protests against the elections.The current president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has been in power for 16 years in the former communist state. According to the outcomes of the recent elections, which are strongly questioned by the international community, he won 80 percent of the votes.

END

For more information, please contact:
Bert Vandenkendelaere, ESU Chairperson: +32 4736 6 9892 / bert@esu-online.org
Marianne Slegers, ESU Communications Manager: +32 4736 6 9894/ marianne@esu-online.org

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