Free for publication 4.9.2020
This week, Belarusian students and young people have taken to the streets with peaceful protests to demand democracy and new elections in Belarus, in continuation of the month-long peaceful demonstrations. Students and even children have been violently detained by masked riot police in public spaces, in schools and in universities. According to SYL’s resources, in the past month “at least 10 000 have been arrested, 600 tortured, 5 killed, and 6 are still missing. Most of them are youth.” University professors and school teachers have been filmed both protecting and reporting students to the riot police. Universities and schools that are supposed to be safe and stable learning environments have become places of fear and violence. Masked individuals and riot police dressed in black have entered schools and infiltrated peaceful protests to illegally detain students and underaged children. Students have been shoved into cars and vans with violence. Amnesty International and the United Nations have reported beatings, rape threats and torture of detained civilians.
SYL is appalled by the reports coming in from Belarus about the widespread violence towards civilians and especially underaged students. Lukašenka, his government and the Belarusian military force have violently breached democracy and civil liberties to unprecedented proportions. The European Union and the United Nations have largely condemned the violence and corruption in Belarus, but so far it has had no effect on human rights violations. The EU has agreed to impose sanctions, but has yet to do so.
SYL stands in solidarity with the students and youth of Belarus, the student organisations the Belarusian Students’ Association (BSA), and the Brotherhood of Organizers of Student Self-Government (BOSS).
- Calls for the EU’s support for the people of Belarus, including but not limited to economic sanctions and travel bans for Lukašenka and his immediate circle.
- Demands the removal of Belarus from the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and Bologna Process for the violation of EHEA’s core values. SYL reiterates the demands of the SYL General Assembly to strengthen academic freedom across Europe, including the right to teach, the right to learn and the right to research.
- Calls for the trial and imprisonment of police officers, military personnel and civilians responsible for violations of human rights in form of illegal detainment and torture of protesters.
- Calls for Lukašenka to be brought in front of the International Criminal Court for the violations of human rights and political rights of Belarusian citizens.
- Urges the EU to support independent journalists and human rights observers both monetarily and legally in Belarus.
International Affairs and EU Lobbying Adviser
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