Arrest of students in Belarus condemned

Union calls for universities to remove barriers to peaceful protest

March 29, 2017

The European Students’ Union has condemned the imprisonment of students taking part in protests in Belarus and called for their immediate release.

There have been several protests against an unemployment tax in the capital, Minsk, and other cities this month.

The ESU said that universities have rescheduled their obligatory classes to times that prevent students from taking part in the demonstrations.

“Academia and higher education should be arenas for critical thinking and democratic participation. We cannot accept these actions,” it said in a statement.

The ESU demanded that no students using the right to protest and freedom of speech should be punished with university expulsion and that any missed classes by protesters should be excused.

The ESU said that the final responsibility for meeting the demands lay with the Belarus government but that it expected commitments from higher education institutions.

“Violations of student rights and academic freedom are severe violations of the fundamental values of the European Higher Education Area,” it said in the statement released on 23 March.

Belarus became a member of the EHEA in May 2015.

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