SOFIA – Bulgarian students joined a massive civil demonstration on 23 October and are now the main voice and actors fighting against corruption in the country. The protests originated in mid-June after Oresharski’s government controversially appointed Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security. Since then, the protests have only magnified and spread all across the country.
A survey shows that Bulgarian students are supported by more than sixty per cent of the society and hundreds of professors have also signed a petition to support them. They voice the demand of the whole society for a government clean of any kind of corruption as well as a government capable of listening to its citizens and respond to their demands.
“A corrupt government affects all members of society, including students. Getting rid of corruption is the way to prosperous economy and a healthy democracy. Students and young graduates are most affected by brain-drain as the corruption doesn’t allow them to benefit from a stable economy nor a stable government that will give them satisfactory employment opportunities as well as opportunities to influence decisions as active citizens. We support fully the cause of Bulgarian students to fight against corruption within Bulgaria’s administration,” says Gabriela Bergan, Human Rights and Solidarity Coordinator of the European Students’ Union.
“Students have proven to be in the past a driving force for change and this is exactly the role that Bulgarian students are embracing now. Students are key actors in a civil society and as such have the right to express themselves freely on all subjects. They do not represent solely students’ interests and are not limited to express themselves on academic issues,” Bergan continues.
Protected by the Students’ Rights Charter
This essential student right seems to have been undermined as the Prime Minister of Bulgaria explained that he “expected a different kind of protest demands from the students – a professional one, about education, because education is not in an excellent shape, while their demands are typical political ones” . In fact, this statement does not regard students as full citizens who can have an opinion on everything that will affect them within their university or outside their university as citizens. Therefore, ESU would like to remind the Bulgarian government that it firmly stands for “the right of all students to freely express themselves and this should not be limited to academic matters” (As protected by Article 14 of the Students’ Rights Charter) .
ESU also deplores the fact that protesters have been the targets of police forces who threw stones at them. ESU believes that students and all citizens have the fundamental right to protest and that they should not fear for their security because of this act.
ESU hereby supports Bulgarian students and its member union, the National Assembly of Students’ Council (NASC), in their protest against corruption and in the civic role they are carrying in these protests. ESU calls on the Bulgarian government to ensure a non-violent space for citizens to protests. In addition, ESU calls on all parties to come together and discuss a possible resolution of the conflict.
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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.