Ministry of Education Serves Totalitarianism
Human Rights Center Viasna got a copy of the letter of the Ministry of Education #03-24/28, restricted publication “About non-admission of the attempts of involvement of pupils and students in lawless activity of political kind”, signed by the minister Aliaksandr Radzkou and addressed to the education boards of regional executive committees and heads of secondary and higher educational establishments.
This document confirmed the practice of political persecution of students that has existed for several years already. The letter offers to enhance the ideological work with pupils and students for “neutralization of the attempts to involve students in lawless activity of political kind”. For instance, it is proposed to widen the practice of creation of commissions on lawless and addictive behavior of students in educational establishments, organize registration and individual work with the pupils and students that have inclination to such activity. It means that publicly and politically active persons will be watched with especial attention, which contradicts to the Constitution, violates basic human rights and liberties.
The letter also advises to teachers and lecturers to do everything possible to leave no place for anti-state rhetoric and criticism in the classrooms and introduce courses and programs oriented on upbringing of law-obedient citizens. Meanwhile, Article #33 of the Constitution guarantees to each citizen of Belarus freedom of opinions, convictions and the right to express them and Article #34 guarantees the right to receive, save and distribute complete, true and timely information about activity of state organs, public associations, political, economical, cultural and international life and the situation of the environment.
The mentioned letter actually introduces censorship in educational establishments, as a result of which it would be possible to distribute there only “ideologically correct” information, which again contradicts to Article #33 of the Constitution. The letter also makes the administration of educational establishments responsible for participation of students and pupils in unauthorized measures that are held by oppositional organizations. It is recommended to them to remand pupils and students, though neither the law on education, nor the rulings of the Ministry of Education on secondary and higher educational establishments contain such reason for remanding as “participation in unauthorized measures held by opposition”.
Chair of Human Rights Center Viasna A. Bialiatski thinks that the measures proposed by the education minister will inescapably lead to fascist totalitarian order at educational establishments:
-- Belarusians were remanded from the universities of the Russian Empire, Polish gymnasiums and Soviet institutes for their political views and public position. Now they will be deprived of the right to education in Belarus. It is a crying shame from which the present education minister and the direct implementers of the letter won’t wash clean till death.
Members of HRC Viasna urge teachers and administration of higher educational establishments not to follow the urges of the non-constitutional letter of the education minister, remain real intellectuals and defend the rights of the students and pupils irrespective of their political views and convictions.